Airports DFS controls traffic at Saarbrücken Airport remotely

  • Saarbrücken Airport

German air navigation service provider DFS has announced, that it has started controlling traffic at Saarbrücken airport remotely.

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The DFS has established a new Remote Tower Control Centre, which began operations this week. The new centre is located in Leipzig, 450 kilometres away from Saarbrücken Airport. From Leipzig, the DFS controls the traffic using high-definition video and infrared cameras.

According to DFS, the company will have a four-week long introductory phase. After the test phase, the airport will be the largest airport in the world where daily operations are controlled remotely.

If this project goes well, DFS plans on using the new technology to control traffic at the German cities of Dresden and Erfurt as well. 10 air traffic controllers have been transferred from Saarbrücken to Leipzig.

"Our remote tower system is an example of how new digital technologies can be used innovatively in the aviation sector, " said DFS CEO Klaus-Dieter Scheurle. "We are improving our efficiency while maintaining the high standards of safety DFS requires." The system developed by DFS is unique. "We have established a new standard in the world of remote tower technology."

The combination of infrared and video cameras deliver a constant 360-degree view of the airport. This panoramic imagine is then being displayed on various monitors at the office in Leipzig. The working controller is able to choose the selection of the image they want to focus on. In addition, the cameras are capable of panning, tilting and zooming, so that every smallest detail can be seen. To monitor the apron, static cameras have been installed.

"Until now, remote tower solutions had been an option for very small airports with low levels of traffic only [...] Our system allows us for the first time to control a large international airport around the clock from one external location,"  added Scheurle

The first aircraft to be remotely controlled was a Luxair Bombardier DHC 8-400 incoming from Luxembourg. Three minutes later, a CRJ 700 from Luxair received the first remote take-off clearance from Saarbrücken Airport.

Saarbrücken Airport is an international airport located in Saarbrücken, the capital of the German state of Saarland. Last year, the airport counted nearly 400,000 passengers. From Saarbrücken, Luxair operates flights to Luxembourg, Hamburg and Berlin-Tegel. Flybmi serves Munich while Eurowings, SunExpress and Tuifly operate seasonal leisure charters. Saarbrücken Airport has a single 2,000 metre long asphalt runway.

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