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OTHER ARTICLES Last modified on June 7, 2016

Remote control

Remote towers will allow for safe and efficient air traffic services, potentially reducing the costs for air traffic services at airports by 30% to 40%, writes Avinor’s Jan Østby.

Last autumn, Norwegian airport operator and air navigation service provider, Avinor, announced pioneering plans to introduce remote tower solutions at 15 of its airports. 

The move, which is now underway, is the largest commitment to remotely operated towers in the industry and aims to ensure the provision of safe and efficient operations at Norwegian airports for the forseeable future. 

“Remote towers are an important focus area that offers great possibilities both for the Avinor Group and the Norwegian aviation industry,” says Dag Falk-Petersen, CEO of Avinor.

“The technology allows for safe and efficient operation of Norwegian airports, and will help us to maintain the extensive aviation services we have in Norway.” 

 

Increasing efficiency 

With remote towers, air traffic control services can be provided at several airports from the same location – a remote tower centre. 

For many regional airports in Norway, traffic is limited, with long periodes with little or no traffic at all and this is a key reason why Avinor believes that centralising air traffic services allows for optimised staffing, increased efficiency and lower infrastructure investments.

In terms of staffing, the major potential for increased efficiency comes with the possibility for one operator to handle air traffic services at several airports simultaneously.

Investment in and maintenance of control towers are a major cost for airports, however, with remote towers, the construction and maintenance of traditional control towers will no longer be a requirement. 

Instead, cameras and other sensor technology will be installed at a much lower cost – connected to a remote tower centre.

In total, with more efficient staffing and avoiding investments in air traffic control towers, remote towers can cut costs for air traffic services at airports by 30-40% per annum.

 

Cutting edge technology

Kongsberg and Indra Navia will deliver a complete solution for remote controlled tower services for several airports from one control centre. 

We believe that their leading solution is better than comparable technology on the market today, and will be well suited for Norway’s demanding climatic conditions.

Kongsberg have used expertise from different industries to produce a unique sensor technology composed of newly developed and existing components that provide optical resolution at 360 degrees. 

It is a seamless image where many of today’s challenges in re-creating such a large field of view have been solved using only one camera. The system also has additional features such as night capability using an infrared sensor. 

Indra Navia has years of experience in delivering solutions to international air traffic management, including solutions for tower services for the world’s largest airports and leading ATM service providers. 

 

Safe operations

Every change in aviation is governed by strict safety regulations and, in line with this, Avinor and its partners will undertake a comprehensive safety analysis of the changes in its systems, procedures and working methods. 

In addition, the technologies used for remote towers involves several solutions that provide tower staff with more information than they currently have in traditional towers. 

Indeed, remote towers will only be introduced when it is absolutely confirmed and documented that the solution ensures safety levels equivalent to or better than the current solutions. 

And Avinor is not alone in looking at the issue as remote tower operations have also been approved by the national civil aviation authorities in neighbouring Sweden, where Saab is working in collaboration with LFV, which has commissioned remote towers at a handful of airports.

Avinor is currently establishing its remote tower centre, and finalising the technical solutions for remote tower operations. We expect to start remote tower operations during 2017.  

About the author
Jan Østby is head of remote services at Avinor Air Navigation Services and can be contacted at

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