Scandinavian Mountains Airport a new hub that will connect winter holidaymakers in Scandinavia and the rest of the world, is going to be one of the first airports in the world to be built without an air traffic control tower on its ground. Instead, the airport will have a remote or “virtual” air traffic control system, operated by controllers about 300kms away in Sundsvall. 

With the Virtual air traffic control set to receive the necessary data to manage air traffic and guide flights to safety from multiple cameras and special sensors at the airport, the operators will have a 360- degree view of the airfield and the immediate surroundings from rows of high-definition screens on the wall.

Such facilities becoming common among small airports that don’t get a lot of traffic, cities like Örnsköldsvik in northern Sweden, as well as Sundsvall-Timra Airport have all forgone air control towers. Similarly, Norway saw about 15 airports all shutting their towers and transferring operations to remote control rooms. 

Aerial panorama of the Old Town (Gamla Stan) architecture in Stockholm, Sweden
Scenic summer aerial panorama of the Old Town (Gamla Stan) architecture in Stockholm, Sweden

But how Safe is this technology?

John Walton, an aviation expert, reports that the technology is both safe and well tested and can give operators even more data to work with, as well as allowing airports to manage their flights anywhere in the world. Niclas Gustavsson, head of commercial development for LFV group, says that digital cameras offer numerous possibilities for improving safety. “Computers can compare every picture that comes through. If something changes alerts are issued immediately. Maybe eventually there will be no towers built at all” Gustavsson added on. 

With the technology becoming popular in cities across Europe, Australia and America, London City Airport has transferred some of its air traffic operations to a hub just outside of Southampton, with the expectation of a larger remote control air traffic tower transferring all operation by 2020. 

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