Farnborough Airport is set to become the first in the UK to use digital tower technology in an operational airfield.
Digital ATC tower technology uses cameras to provide air traffic controllers with a real-time video feed of the airfield from different positions, overlaid with information from tracking software that provides data on aircraft.
Farnborough is the UK’s only airport dedicated to business aviation and handled more than 33,000 flights last year. It is working with NATS and supplier Searidge Technologies to install what they are calling the “hybrid digital control tower working position”, with commissioning of the system planned for 2025.
The system will provide views that would otherwise be distant or obscured from the tower and integrates ADS-B surveillance data into the video stream. This enables controllers to monitor individual aircraft and airport vehicles more effectively, said NATs boosting safety and efficiency, especially during low visibility scenarios such as fog.
Les Freer, Farnborough Airport operations director said, “To be the first airport in the UK to introduce this new technology further builds upon our position as Europe’s leading airport for premium air travel – this innovation enables us to maintain the highest levels of safety and compliance, while increasing the efficiency of our airfield.”
Andy Taylor, NATS chief solutions officer for digital towers said, “The solution they’ve adopted is a digital extension for their existing tower asset, increasing its operational value and future proofing it. It will allow Farnborough to make the most of their existing infrastructure, while also supporting their ambitious development plans.”
The deployment at Farnborough will be the first live deployment for Searidge in the UK, following the installation of a non-operational digital tower test and demonstration facility at Heathrow Airport in 2018.
Moodie Cheikh, co-founder and CEO of Searidge Technologies said, “Searidge and NATS share a common vision that airports and ATC should be working more closely together, sharing information and leveraging data to ensure the safest and most efficient operation for UK airports. We want to make sure UK aviation has the most advanced technology to support tower operations, and working with like-minded partners like Farnborough Airport is key to our joint success.”
Searidge, has programs in 40 countries around the world. A hybrid tower is one of five digital tower models they offer, catering for the smallest airports to the biggest hubs, including Hong Kong and Singapore.