Airports What is a Remote and Virtual Tower?

  • Saab

Part 1 of our themed week: More and more airports are getting remote and virtual tower. AVIPEO.COM takes a closer look at the new technology.

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Airport towers can be impressive buildings. The tower of Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport with its 132 meters is one of the highest airport towers in the world. Thousands of employees are working in the towers around the world to secure save airport operations.

A new technology could revolutionise airport operations and make towers redundant in some cases. Companies and air traffic controls all over the world are developing concepts for remote and virtual tower concepts.

What is a remote and virtual tower (RVT)?

The idea of a RVT is easy: By using modern technologies such as high-resolution cameras, internet and infrared, a tower with view on the airfield is not anymore required. The tower can be relocated to another place.

Why does it make sense to use RVT’s?

The relocation of air traffic control can have several benefits. Especially for smaller airport with medium and low traffic levels the usage of RVT can make sense. By serving multiple airports of this size the costs for air traffic control can be reduced.  Additional cost savings can be reached by avoiding the maintenance and building of towers and facilities at the airport. But also larger airports, like Singapore’s Changi Airport are getting interested in the RVT technology. The new technology could help to improve operations as contingency services in cases of fire or power failure which impacts the local tower. Another advantage of RVT’s is the possibility to increase airport safety by using additional technologies to improve visibility or to reduce human mistakes.

Remote Tower Overview
Remote Tower concept © AVIPEO.COM

Which technology is used for RVT’s?

On airports with a tower, air traffic controllers use their eyes and computer-based systems to control the airspace and all ground operations. To guarantee the same overview over the ground processes RVT’s require masts with cameras. Saab as one of the leading companies in the RVT business uses 25 meter masts with high resolution cameras that guarantee a 360-degree view of the airport. Additional cameras for zooming and detailed views replace binoculars. The usage of thermo-infrared camera technology guarantees a clear view in bad weather conditions or during the night. These live videos are streamed through a high bandwidth link to the remote tower center.

The remote tower center looks very similar to a tower with one exception: the view on the airfield is shown on several screens. This allows the staff to manage several airports in one tower center. The working spaces insight the tower center are similar to the spaces in traditional towers. By using additional technologies like head-up displays, air traffic controllers can get even more information than in a normal tower.

Source © AVIPEO.COM

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