London City Airport will swap out its control tower as it plans for remote air traffic control to take off

Rebecca Smith
London City's innovative station will be ready for take off in 2019
London City's innovative station will be ready for take-off in 2019 (Source: London CIty Airport)

London City Airport will be the first in the UK to replace its air traffic controllers with a remotely operated digital system.

That's right: bye bye to your typical manned tower.

Working with air traffic control services firm Nats, London City has approved plans for a new tower, featuring 14 high-definition cameras and two pan-tilt-zoom ones, which will provide a full 360-degree view of the airfield. London City thinks it will mean greater visibility across the airport and eventually result in faster turnarounds for aircraft.

Read more: London City Airport partners with private jet firm GlobeAir

Information collected at London CIty will be transferred by three digital feeds to a screen in Swanwick, one of two Nats' air traffic control centres in the UK.

The system is due to be completed next year and will be tested for 12 months before becoming fully operational in 2019.

The 50-metre digital tower was approved by the London borough of Newham in December of last year and construction will kick off later this year.

Declan Collier, London City's chief executive, said:

A pioneering new digital air traffic control system will enhance safety and improve resilience, setting a new standard for the global aviation industry to follow.

With London City Airport’s plans to grow and an existing tower which is reaching the end of its operational lifespan, this cutting-edge proven technology future-proofs London City Airport’s air traffic control for the next 30 years and beyond.

Mike Stoller, director, airports at Nats, said: “Digital towers are going to transform the way air traffic services are provided at airports by providing real safety, operational and efficiency benefits, and we are delighted that London City Airport has chosen to work with us to deliver what will be the first of its kind in the UK.”

It comes as the airport starts construction on its £350m City Airport development programme, aimed at bringing in two million more passengers per year by 2025.

Here's how the tower will look:

(Click or tap on the images to see them in full screen)

Read more: London City Airport boss to spread his wings after five years in the job

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