A digital control tower has been built at London City Airport, allowing flights to be fully guided to take-off and landing by remote controllers.
Air traffic controllers normally sit in a tower with panoramic windows overlooking the airport runway. However, this digital control tower allows the London Docklands-based airfield to be managed from approximately 80 miles away in an office block in Swanwick, Hampshire.
The new 50m-tall digital control tower features 16 HD cameras: 14 static and two able to pan, tilt and zoom. The tower has metal spikes on top to keep birds away from the cameras and each camera has a self-cleaning mechanism to prevent insects and debris from making the lenses dirty. The project cost just under £20m.
Live video, audio and radar data are transmitted to the base of air traffic control provider NATS, where it is displayed across 14 screens in a control room. The panoramic moving images can be overlaid with useful information, such as aircraft call signs, altitude, speed and weather readings. This augmented or enhanced reality view allows the same number of controllers to deal with a larger number of plane movements. The airport will be able to handle 45 plane movements per hour, up from 40 in 2019.
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