Digital tower takes its place in new ecosystem at Cranfield

09 April 2018
DARTeC aims to establish a new research and development paradigm for air traffic management technology, says Cranfield University Director of Aviation Operations Rob Abbott. Source: Cranfield University

Remote tower technology from Saab Digital Air Traffic Solutions (SDATS) is being integrated in the Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre (DARTeC) at Cranfield University in the United Kingdom.

Construction of the facility is underway and factory acceptance tests of the digital tower technology are scheduled for late April 2018, before the planned start of operations in December. “We’ve had regular interaction with the regulator, which is important because we’re blazing a trail for everyone else,” said Rob Abbott, Director of Aviation Operations at Cranfield University.

When it opens in 2020, DARTeC will investigate integrated solutions for aircraft, airport, and airspace management. As well as the digital tower, the airfield at Cranfield will include advanced radar technologies, to help researchers investigate more efficient and flexible airspace management methods. A B-737-400, donated to DARTeC by British Airways, will be converted into a technology demonstrator to study areas such as green aircraft taxiing, digital maintenance, and robotic ground-handling. Cranfield University is also building a flexible-use mock terminal as a testbed for landside and airside technologies.

DARTeC was launched in July 2017 with investment of GBP65 million (USD85.2 million) from the UK government, Cranfield University, and an industry consortium including Thales (plus its Aveillant subsidiary), Raytheon, Saab, Monarch Aircraft Engineering Limited, and Boeing UK. Software company BOXARR joined in February 2018 and more could follow suit.

“Cranfield aims to be the preferred choice for testing ATM technology,” said Abbott. “Our added value is that we have a lot of academics involved in future-oriented ATM strategies such as SESAR.”

DARTeC aims to establish a new research and development paradigm, enabling ATM technology to move faster from the drawing board to deployment. “This would really invigorate innovation in aviation,” Abbott told Jane’s . “How can we streamline the ATM ecosystem? That’s what DARTeC is about.”

See related article at:

Want to read more? For analysis on this article and access to all our insight content, please enquire about our subscription options at

To contact the author of this article, email

(329 of 548 words)



    PIS/LFBI AIRFIELD REF PT.: N46 35.15 E000 18.24 ELEVATION : 423' 129m CFR : 5 MAX RWY LENGTH : 7,710' 2,350 m General Information SURFACE : Rwy 03/21, 7,710' 2,350 m, width 148' 45 m, asphalt, PCN 44 F/C/W/T. ADDITIONAL RUNWAYS : Rwy 03R/21L, 2,297' 700 m, width 148' 60 m, grass, Rwy 03L/21R,


    HOR/LPHR AIRFIELD REF PT.: N38 31.19 W028 42.95 ELEVATION : 118' 36m CFR : 6 MAX RWY LENGTH : 5,233' 1,595m General Information SURFACE : Rwy 10/28, 5,233' 1,595 m, width 148' 45 m, asphalt. ADDITIONAL RUNWAYS : None. RUNWAY LIGHTING : Rwy 10: LIRL, REIL, ALSF-2, PAPI.Rwy 28: LIRL, REIL, ALSF-2,

  • PICO

    PIX/LPPI AIRFIELD REF PT.: N38 33.16 W028 26.29 ELEVATION : 109' 33m CFR : 0 MAX RWY LENGTH : 5,725' 1,745m General Information SURFACE : Rwy 09/27 Twy, 5,725' 1,745 m, width 148' 45 m, asphalt, PCN 80 F/B/W/T. ADDITIONAL RUNWAYS : None. RUNWAY LIGHTING : Rwy 09: LIRL, PAPI.Rwy 27: LIRL, ALSF-2,


    SMA/LPAZ AIRFIELD REF PT.: N36 58.28 W025 10.24 ELEVATION : 308' 94m CFR : 7 MAX RWY LENGTH : 10,000' 3,048m General Information SURFACE : Rwy 18/36, 10,000' 3,048 m, width 197' 60 m, concrete. ADDITIONAL RUNWAYS : Rwy 15/33, 6,004' 1,830 m; Rwy 04/22, 4,345' 1,324 m; both asphalt; both closed.