British-Irish Airports EXPO Partners 2020
British-Irish Airports EXPO Partners 2020
British-Irish Airports EXPO Partners 2020

The 5th British-Irish Airports EXPO 2022 has now ended

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EXCEL London | 22-23 June 2022

One year on: London City’s Digital Air Traffic Control Tower

Alison FitzGerald, Chief Operating Officer, London City: “For me, given the extensive preparation and testing, the technology was never in question. But what has impressed me so much is the way our engineering teams worked together, despite not being in the same location, to resolve issues where they have arisen at all times of the day and in every possible weather condition!”

London City Airport has marked the first anniversary of the launch of its Digital Air Traffic Control Tower.

On 30 April last year, London City and NATS announced the successful launch of the first Digital Air Traffic Control Tower at a mainstream UK commercial airport. Unlike most airports, air traffic control is provided by a digital system, which sees 14 high-definition cameras and sensors mounted on a landside mast at the airport which provide a 360-degree view of the airfield. This is all relayed through super-fast fibre connections to a new control room in NATS’ air traffic control centre in Swanwick.

The air traffic controllers, who now manage traffic in and out of LCY from a specially designed control room 108 miles away in the NATS control centre in Swanwick, have been using the gradual pick up in traffic to build resilience and familiarity across the ATC team.

Lawrie McCurrach, NATS Watch Manager at London City, said: “One of the challenges was how little traffic there was due to COVID. However, the lower traffic levels helped us get to grips with the new technology and to get familiar with the new infrastructure at the airport. It now has a full-length taxiway so there is no more back tracking up the runway. There are also extra stands for the aircraft to park in, so we basically no longer control the same airport that we were did before when we were based in the physical tower. As traffic picks up, we are moving back to normal numbers with everyone on shift and more positions opened in the tower. We’ve also been using lessons learnt at other airports where the traffic has picked up faster and earlier and generally training on operating with more flights. We are ready to rock and roll!”

Alison FitzGerald, Chief Operating Officer, London City, commented: “For me, given the extensive preparation and testing, the technology was never in question. But what has impressed me so much is the way our engineering teams worked together, despite not being in the same location, to resolve issues where they have arisen at all times of the day and in every possible weather condition! Now that the technology is bedded in, we are starting to assess its broader potential. One area there’s scope to do more, particularly given the position and height of the tower, is around how we can share real-time information with airport stakeholders for safety and security purposes. While we are excited to be scaling up the number of flights at London City, some issues haven’t gone away and there are risks we need to be alive to.”

London City Airport has marked the first anniversary of the launch of its Digital Air Traffic Control Tower. On 30 April last year, London City and NATS announced the successful launch of the first Digital Air Traffic Control Tower at a mainstream UK commercial airport.

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