Digital Air Traffic Control (ATC) Towers use cameras situated on a mast to send live images and sounds to an external air traffic controller located at a control centre, who can then monitor the airport’s activities from several miles away.
Although they have been adopted at airports around the world, London City Airport (LCY) has become the world’s first major international airport to introduce a digital ATC Tower, following on from a successful trial over lockdown .
Figure 1: London City Airport at sunset.
The New ATC Tower
The new ATC Tower is located to the south of the centre of the Runway 09/27 and the cameras are positioned 50 metres above ground level. The information is then sent to the air traffic controllers, who are located 115km away at the control centre in Swanwick, Hampshire .
In a previous article, we explored the benefits of digital ATC Towers compared to their traditional counterparts. Perhaps the most notable benefit is the fact that the visual picture viewed by the controllers can be overlaid with digital data – including callsigns, altitudes, speed and weather – to give controllers an “enhanced reality” view. The cameras can also pan, tilt, and have zoom capabilities that can provide 30-fold magnification .
According to NATS, these benefits will help manage a surge in demand as the COVID-19 restrictions continue to lift, and the digital system signifies the future of air-traffic management at international airports around the world .
The LCY Chief Operational Officer, Alison Fitzgerald saying: “Since going operational at the end of January, the technology has worked really well” .
Many large airports will be looking to LCY to determine whether the digital ATC Tower is safe, reliable, and efficient. Success at LCY is likely to see many more airports adopting the new digital systems in the future.
Pager Power can assess the effects of glint and glare from upon aviation receptors, including potential effects upon digital ATC Towers. If you require a glint and glare assessment or any assistance on your projects, please get in touch on 01787 319001.
 London City Airport: Mediaroom. 2021. London City is first major airport controlled by remote digital tower – London City Airport: Mediaroom. [online] Available at: https://media.londoncityairport.com/remote-digital-air-traffic-control-tower-operational/ [Accessed 11 May 2021].
 NATS. 2021. London City is first major airport controlled by remote digital tower – NATS. [online] Available at: https://www.nats.aero/news/london-city-is-first-major-airport-controlled-by-remote-digital-tower/ [Accessed 11 May 2021].
Image accreditation: London City Airport at Sunset by James Petts via Flickr.