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Are Remote ATC Towers The Future?

Air Traffic Control has changed very little since the Second World War. The industry is acutely aware of the need to modernize and rethink the way in which air traffic management takes place. ( Plus d'info...

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belzybob 3
It still requires controllers, whether remote or not. So, other than the physical accommodation, what is the real saving? The controllers will still need space to work in. I'm sure some accountant will relish the 0.05% or whatever minuscule saving. All is great until the link goes down....
Yes, but one controller can work more than one airport with this setup. There are controlled airports that may have less than 20 movements a day. KGWO is a great example of this. The control tower is owned and operated by the City of Greenwood meeting FAA standards. (When I was in the military, I spent two weekends in the tower doing some local control as a cross-training exercise.) The local government thought that the economic benefits of running their own tower was better than having it CTAF/Pilot controlled during the day. This allowed to the get re-fulling contracts from military pilot training.

So, like I said, less than 20 movements a day. One remote consolidated control center could run more than one facility like this using remote towers and fewer controllers. Lidar and other sensors could enhance safety. Thus, the city would outsource the work.

I loved working local control in a control tower. The sounds, smells, sights, were something I'll never forget. But, besides nostalgic reasons, I don't see why this would not work.
sparkie624 1
To me.. It sounds as thought it will be more expensive, because they will have to have many more cameras and the fact, how would you know that someone is taxing and maybe crossing a runway if they do not have their transponder on... Surprising how many times someone forgets a simple switch or the simple fact that the Transponder failed.
patrick baker 2
if you don't like pilot-less airliners and cargo planes, how much are you going to enjoy remote un-manned towers? London City AIrport is going that way. That makes me uneasy. Radars go down, and there goes the coverage for safety needs at towers un-manned.
As far as the US, over 90% of the airports are uncontrolled. Or as my pilot friend used to tell me, pilot controlled. Yet now, aircraft can see each other on what GA pilots fondly call the 'fish finder.' (ADSB in/out) If a remote tower went town, then airport could revert to Common traffic advisory frequency. Radars have failed before. From virtual fixes via GPS to physical navaids, traffic can be managed. When I was in military air traffic controller school, they would randomly turn off your radar and make you finish the lesson using non-radar procedures. It's fairly simple. You space aircraft out with time (horizontal) and distance (vertical). Don't cross point B before time T. Next aircraft, don't cross point B before time T+10, etc. You maintain positive control, it's just more laborious.
sparkie624 1
A Very similiar Article:
sparkie624 1
Very interesting concept, But I do not see a safety improvement from not having trained personnel in the tower.

dmanuel 1
We have a remote tower, here in Leesburg VA (KJYO). So far it seems to work pretty well. While the controllers are not in an actual tower (which I am sure would be a budget buster) they on on-site.
I wonder if somewhere there are folks who are assessing using a controller to cover multiple airports. Perhaps there might be a possibility of co-locating with a TRACON and reducing the long delays of serial departures.

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