Tests begin at second US remote tower

05 December 2018
The out-of-the-window view at the Northern Colorado Regional Airport remote control facility is supported by Searidge Technologies’ remote tower solution. Source: Colorado Department of Transport

Northern Colorado Regional Airport became the second US facility to begin testing remote tower technology in October 2018, following installation of an intelligent video surveillance solution from Searidge Technologies under a contract awarded by Colorado Division of Aeronautics and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in July 2017.

Colorado is interested in cost-effective air traffic control (ATC) services at airports in the state. Northern Colorado Regional (formerly Fort Collins-Loveland) handles about 100,000 movements annually, a similar volume to Leesburg Executive Airport in Virginia. A partnership there between Virginia SATSLab and Saab began remote tower tests in 2016, serving a predominantly general aviation fleet.

Northern Colorado is about 90 km from Denver international, and the new facility uses both radar and video surveillance to provide an out-of-the-window view of the mix of scheduled and general aviation traffic. A central mast – equipped with 14 high-definition cameras, three pan-tilt-zoom cameras, and a light signal gun – relays a 360° stitched view of the airfield to the control room. In addition, each end of the runway is equipped with an array of six cameras, including two zoom cameras, to provide 180° view of arrivals and departures. The control room features a video wall and controller working positions equipped with individual displays.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) began Phase 0 evaluations in mid-October, involving controllers and human factors experts, to gather feedback for system fine-tuning. Searidge is participating in system optimisation before Phase 1 tests begin in March 2019.

Rick Koller, manager of sales operations at Searidge, told Jane’s that Phase 1 includes installation of a mobile ATC tower, supplied by Robinson Aviation (RVA) as a safety measure while users in the Searidge control room perform passive evaluations of the remote tower system.

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