Airports India - - NEWS -

One of the most sym­bolic im­ages at any air­port is the Air Traf­fic Con­trol (ATC) tower, where, from a lofty van­tage point, Air Traf­fic Con­trollers mon­i­tor flights tak­ing off, land­ing and taxi­ing to and from ter­mi­nals. In­creas­ingly, though, con­trol tow­ers will be shut­tered as the airports switch to us­ing re­mote cen­tres to mon­i­tor flights. These cen­tres will be housed in or­di­nary low-rise build­ings, some of which may be hun­dreds of kilo­me­tres away. The cen­tres will re­ceive live video feed from cam­eras po­si­tioned around the air­field to cre­ate a vir­tual im­age of the air­port to be dis­played on large screens po­si­tioned around the con­trollers’ desks.


As the air traf­fic flow is grow­ing swiftly, there is an in­creased re­quire­ment of Air Nav­i­ga­tion Ser­vice Providers (ANSPS) to re­duce the op­er­at­ing costs of Air Nav­i­ga­tion Ser­vices, es­pe­cially for medium and small airports by util­is­ing new tech­nol­ogy. Air Nav­i­ga­tion Ser­vices con­sti­tute a fixed cost, which is hard to re­cover at airports which have rel­a­tively less air traf­fic move­ments. A fully equipped and op­er­a­tional con­trol tower at small airports ser­vic­ing only a hand­ful of take-offs and land­ings per day can be an eco­nomic bur­den, which may over­stretch the fi­nan­cial ca­pa­bil­i­ties of ANSPS at low-traf­fic airports.

The Re­mote Con­trol Tower (RCT) is a pos­si­ble so­lu­tion for such airports for im­prov­ing their prof­itabil­ity, of­fer­ing longer open­ing hours, or pre­vent­ing close­downs.

The Re­mote Con­trol Tower is a new con­cept where the Air Traf­fic Ser­vice (ATS) at an air­port is per­formed some­where else other than in the lo­cal con­trol tower by util­is­ing tech­nol­ogy. RCT re­places the on­site view of the air­port con­trol tower with a vi­su­al­i­sa­tion sys­tem lo­cated at a re­mote site by us­ing high-res­o­lu­tion vis­ual/in­frared cam­eras, op­ti­mised for wide-range cov­er­age by pro­vid­ing a video pre­sen­ta­tion that uses ob­ject de­tec­tion and alert­ing func­tions to­gether with fa­cil­i­tat­ing in­for­ma­tion en­hance­ment. Op­er­at­ing a tower re­motely opens a wide-range of syn­er­gies since it al­lows co-lo­ca­tion of sev­eral tow­ers to one Re­mote Tower Cen­tre (RTC), where sev­eral airports are con­trolled cen­trally by the same staff – pro­vid­ing bet­ter util­i­sa­tion of re­sources.

The Sin­gle Euro­pean Sky ATM Re­search (SESAR) pro­gramme which has pi­o­neered the tech­nol­ogy of the RCT, uses the term ‘Re­mote Vir­tual Tower’ for a re­mote con­trol tower and de­fines it as fol­lows.

A Re­mote Vir­tual Tower is where Air Traf­fic Ser­vices (ATS) are re­motely pro­vided through direct vis­ual cap­ture and vis­ual re­pro­duc­tion (e.g. with cam­eras). The ATS is pro­vided us­ing a Re­mote Tower Mo­d­ule (RTM), which in­cludes op­er­a­tor work­sta­tion(s), ATM sys­tems and dis­play so­lu­tions.

A ‘re­mote tower mo­d­ule’ is the term for the com­plete mo­d­ule, in­clud­ing both the Con­troller Work­ing Po­si­tions (CWPS) and the vis­ual re­pro­duc­tion dis­play screens.

A Re­mote Tower Cen­tre is a build­ing where the ATS is lo­cated to serve one or more airports. It usu­ally in­cludes sev­eral RTMS. There are three dif­fer­ent op­er­a­tional types of re­mote con­trol tower:

Sin­gle re­mote con­trol tower Mul­ti­ple re­mote con­trol tower Contin­gency re­mote con­trol tower


As in most op­er­a­tions re­lated to avi­a­tion, re­mote tow­ers would have mul­ti­ple backup sys­tems, in­clud­ing dual power sup­plies and ad­di­tional routes for data net­works. Even from afar, the con­trollers would be able to op­er­ate by re­mote con­trol­ling the sig­nal lamps which are used at airports to com­mu­ni­cate with pi­lots in the event of a ra­dio fail­ure.

Fur­ther, Tar­get Track­ing is not the only fea­ture to emerge from the Re­mote Tower con­cept with the po­ten­tial to im­prove safety. Some of the other tech­nolo­gies it em­braces might be in­te­grated into safety net so­lu­tions or used in daily op­er­a­tions as sup­port tools and safety en­hancers in their own right. With the re­cent im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Re­mote Tower and other con­cepts by some of the Air Nav­i­ga­tion Ser­vice providers, in­no­va­tion and change are in the air. Now is the time to cap­i­talise on this to fuel fur­ther cut­ting-edge de­vel­op­ments, not for­get­ting to ex­plore all av­enues for their safety po­ten­tial.

Though cur­rently, there is lack of global

reg­u­la­tion from ICAO, the Air Nav­i­ga­tion Ser­vices providers, the world over, are test­ing the tech­nol­ogy and are in the process of im­ple­ment­ing and test­ing the con­cept of op­er­a­tions. The first re­motely con­trolled air­port in the world has been in op­er­a­tion since April 2015, at the Orn­skoldsvik Air­port in Sweden, which has been ap­proved by the reg­u­la­tor ac­cord­ing to the same reg­u­la­tions as the con­ven­tional air traf­fic con­trol.

Con­sid­er­ing the cost-ben­e­fit of the re­mote ATC tower it is im­por­tant to con­sider the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the con­cept and the tech­nol­ogy in India. As a pi­lot project and for test­ing its ap­pli­ca­bil­ity, the RCT con­cept is be­ing con­sid­ered by the Airports Author­ity of India for con­trol­ling the air traf­fic at one of the op­er­a­tional airports from an­other air­port. A Re­quest for Pro­posal [RFP] for the same has been floated. Sub­se­quently, the Re­mote Tower tech­nol­ogy can also be tested for op­er­at­ing as an al­ter­nate ATC Tower in the case of any contin­gency.

ATC Work Sta­tion, Con­trol Tower

PTZ-VIS-IR: Vis­ual & IR PTZ Cam­era Panorama Cam­eras PTZ-VIS-LG: Vis­ual PTZ Cam­era & Sig­nal Light Gun Hotspot Cam­eras

Re­mote Air Traf­fic Con­trol com­po­nents (Im­age Cour­tesy : M/s Fre­quen­tis)

New ATC Com­plex, IGI Air­port, Delhi

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