Remote tower developers put Middle East in their sights

22 May 2018
Could the air traffic control tower at Dubai International Airport be replaced or augmented by a digital remote solution? Source: Getty Images

Frequentis presented its smartVISION remote tower technology to a Middle Eastern audience for the first time on 7–9 May, during the Dubai Airport Show. Designed for small or medium-capacity airports, smartVISION replicates the visual view out of the tower, enabling air navigation service providers at a remote centre to control air traffic at individual or multiple airports.

HungaroControl also showcased the Searidge-led remote tower solution that it operates at Budapest, and the Hungarian air navigation service provider is working with Searidge for prime contractor NATS on a project at Singapore Changi. Attila Simon, director of business development at HungaroControl, explained that large hub airports are prime candidates for the technology. “Dubai is planning to expand its [Dubai World Central] airport and it will have five runways,” he said. “For this kind of airport you will need remote solutions.”

Frequentis smartVISION towers are installed or have been tested in Germany, Jersey, Austria, and Iceland. In the Middle East, airport operators in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Maldives, Seychelles, and India have shown interest.

“The use of infrared technology makes it possible to see even in harsh conditions or low-visibility due to a sandstorm for instance. You can switch to infrared and still see the entire airport,” said Peter Gridling, Frequentis senior sales manager for ATC remote and virtual towers.

“If you have very small airports with 10 to 20 movements per day, you can put them together and control up to three airports from a single centre. It’s much less expensive than hiring a full staff of controllers,” he added.

Frequentis calculates cost savings of 50–90% in capital expenditure from remote towers, compared to investing in physical infrastructure. The amount varies depending on the size of the airport, the number of runways, and other factors.

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