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London airport to get first digital air traffic control

London airport to get first digital air traffic control

The new tower will use 360° HD cameras and sensors to send a live feed with a panoramic view of the airfield to the control room - which will be based 80 miles away in Swanwick, Hampshire.

"From 2019, the controllers' window over the Docklands' skyline in east London will be a bank of HD screens", the newspaper reported, adding that the full 360 degree view from the City VCR has been compressed to a 225-degree arc, allowing NATS controllers to view the entire runway and apron area from a normal seated position without needing to turn around.

The new system will be tested for a year before becoming fully operational in 2019.

The new technology will also go a long way in simplifying how controllers access data relative to the plane they are controlling.

They will also have real-time information, including the ability to overlay the images with weather information, on-screen labels, radar data, aircraft call signs, or to track moving objects.

Aircraft stand idle at City Airport after a protest closed the runway causing flights to be delayed, in London, Britain September 6, 2016.

"It's providing more tools in front of them rather than having to look away".




"London City [Airport] will be the busiest in the world to adopt this technology", said Paul Beauchamp, a spokesperson for NATS, the national air traffic service that employs the air traffic controllers.

Developed by the defence and aerospace arm of Sweden's Saab, the digital control room has already been rolled out at two small airports in Sweden and has been trialled in the US, Australia and Ireland. At 900 miles, the distance between the two airports is over 10 times bigger than that separating London City and Swanwick.

London City Airport chief executive Declan Collier insisted he is "absolutely confident" that the system is safe from the threat of a cyber attack.

"No chief executive is complacent about threats from cyber security".

"We are delighted that London City airport has chosen to work with us to deliver what will be the first of its kind in the United Kingdom". Paul Winstanley, chair of the Prospect union's air traffic controllers' branch welcomed the change but warned it would have to be introduced gradually.

London City is set to become the first United Kingdom airport to create a digital air traffic control tower.

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