Heathrow

You might have spotted the Heathrow air traffic control tower on TV recently in the BBC’s new show – ‘The Airport: Back in the Skies’. Presented by the original 90’s ‘Airport’ series star Jeremy Spake, the five-part documentary series looks at how the aviation industry at Britain’s busiest airport managed through the most challenging time in its history.

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There were nine go-arounds in a row at one point at Heathrow, and 40 in total between 07:00 and 14:00, when usually we might see one a day. Add in similar problems at other airports and you’re suddenly dealing with a very complex, dynamic and challenging environment. 

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Earlier this year we started a project looking at whether we could apply a combination of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and ultra-HD camera technology to help cut weather- related delays at Heathrow. Here’s an update on what we’re doing next.

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The idea that a digital tower can mean only that you look to replicate exactly what a controller can already see – the application we see most of around the world – is forcing constraints on the technology that don’t need to exist. This technology is revolutionary, so why strive to only recreate what we already have?

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For the next 11 Mondays we’ll be asking a new airspace related question – bowl us over with the right answer and you could be one of two lucky winners walking away with £250 each. This week’s question has been inspired by the upcoming test match…

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Starting tomorrow, the sectors that control Heathrow, Gatwick and the airspace to the South and South-East of these airports will switch over to EXCDS. This is obviously a particularly busy area of airspace, covering the approach function for the UK’s two busiest airports.

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Ever since I can remember I’ve been interested in aviation. I originally had plans to become a pilot, but after studying Aeronautical Engineering, I looked into Air Traffic Control and was instantly interested.

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Armistice Day on 11 November provides a powerful focus for national remembrance, but for me it’s a particular day of reflection.

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After much deliberation, cogitation and digestion, I’m very pleased to say that we now have the winners for our competition to (almost) be a Heathrow air traffic controller for the day.

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