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NEWS Last modified on October 2, 2014

Remote tower technology to be evaluated at Leesburg Airport

Leesburg Executive Airport is partnering with Saab, and Virginia SATSLab (VSATS) to evaluate remote tower technology.

During the summer of 2015, the initiative will demonstrate and assess the remote tower system for use at non-towered airports.

A number of Saab technologies will be deployed at the gateway including high definition video cameras, pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) camera, signal light gun (SLG) and microphones that will provide data directly to a Remote Tower Centre (RTC) located at the airport.

The RTC will have multiple high-definition displays and two controller working positions with command of voice communications, the cameras and SLG.

Data will be collected from the RTC, along with data from a Mobile Air Traffic Control Tower (MATCT) that will be deployed at the same time for safety redundancy and data comparison.

Dennis B. Boykin IV, chairman of the Leesburg Executive Airport Commission, explains: “Pilots will receive non-radar tower services from a trained FAA certified controller, ensuring safe and efficient operations during the demonstration.

“With the unanimous support of our town council, we’re excited for the opportunity to be ‘out in front’ by supporting this technology demonstration.”

Leesburg Executive Airport is one of the top three ranked general aviation (GA) airports in Virginia for both operations and based aircraft, but is not served by an air traffic control tower.

The airport experiences a range of aircraft fleet operations within a complex terminal airspace, and is located under the veil of the special flight rules area (SFRA) for Washington, D.C, as it is located close to Washington Dulles International Airport.

Saab has pioneered the development of remote tower systems and technologies in co-operation with air traffic controllers and air navigation service providers (ANSPs), and deploys systems in Sweden, Norway and Australia.

Ken Kaminski, general manager of Saab ATM, comments: “Leesburg presents the right conditions to demonstrate and evaluate remote tower technology for non-towered US airports, potentially showing remote towers to be a safe, cost-effective alternative to building and maintaining an air traffic control tower.”

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