After two years of testing revolutionary new systems, London City has become the first major airport in Britain without a staffed air-traffic control tower.
Pilots using the Docklands airport in east London this summer will be directed by air-traffic controllers based 80 miles away at Swanwick in rural Hampshire – headquarters for the air-navigation provider, Nats.
A 165-foot digital control tower has been built on top of a long-stay car park adjacent to the runway. It is fitted with 14 high-definition cameras and two ultra-powerful zoom cameras, which can magnify images up to 30 times for close inspection.
The feeds are transmitted through what are described as “independent secure fibre networks”.
A dedicated team of controllers use live pictures, an audio feed from the airfield and radar information to instruct aircraft movements in and out of the airport. When overlaid with digital data, controllers can get an “enhanced reality” view of the airfield.
Juliet Kennedy, operations director at Nats, said: “This is the UK’s first major digital control tower and represents a significant technological and operational achievement, especially against the backdrop of Covid-19…