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19 May 2017

BY Tom Parry


London City first in UK to use remote air traffic controllers

London City airport will become the first in the UK to replace on-site air traffic controllers with a remotely-operated digital system.

London City airport

The airport will replace on-site controllers with a remotely-operated digital system

The new system, due to be completed in 2018, will see controllers 80 miles away watching live footage of aircraft landing and taking off using high-definition cameras.


They will no longer watch from a tower overlooking the runway.


The digital system will be tested for a year before becoming fully operational in 2019.


It has previously been trialled in Australia, Sweden, Norway and Ireland.


It is being introduced as part of a £350 million development to upgrade the Docklands airport which will also include an extended terminal building, enabling it to serve two million more passengers a year by 2025.


The new system will provide controllers with a 360-degree view of the airfield through coverage from 14 high-definition cameras and two cameras which are able to pan, tilt and zoom.


The cameras will send a live feed via fibre cables to a new operations room built at the Hampshire base of air traffic control provider Nats.


London City airport is planning to decommission its traditional tower in 2019, replacing it with a new 164ft digital tower – 104ft taller than the existing one.


Declan Collier, 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 of Nats, added: “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.”

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