London City airport is to replace its current 30-year old control tower with a new digital version in 2019.
In a first for a UK airport, the tower will feature 14 HD cameras and two pan-tilt-zoom cameras, providing a 360-degree view of the airfield “in a level of detail greater than the human eye and with new viewing tools that will modernise and improve air traffic management”.
A live feed of the view will be sent “via independent and secure super-fast fibre networks” to a new NATS control room in Swanwick, from where air traffic controllers will perform their operational role, alongside an audio feed and radar readings.
Controllers will be able to use “a range of viewing tools” including HD zoom, and the ability to overlay images with weather information, on-screen labels, radar data, and aircraft call signs.
LCY says the camera technology will provide “a seamless panoramic moving image”, adding that the decision to replace the existing tower with a digital version had been endorsed by NATS.
The airport said that the technology would “significantly improve a controller’s situational awareness, enabling quick and informed decisions that thereby offer safety and operational benefits for the airport”.
The technology is being provided by Saab Digital Air Traffic Solutions, and is already being used at two Swedish airports in Örnsköldsvik and Sundsvall.
The 50-metre high tower will be located in the airport’s long-stay car park, in line with the mid-way point of the runway, and will be built in 2018, followed by a year of testing and training before becoming operational in 2019.
London City celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, and will begin construction on its £350 million City Airport Development Programme, which will increase capacity by an additional two million passengers annually by 2025.