Airservices Australia will conduct trials of remotely-operated air traffic control tower technology in Australia later this year.
The air navigation services provider (ANSP) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with defence and security company Saab and Swedish ANSP and airport operator, Luftfartsverket (LFV) for the delivery and support of a remotely operated tower solution for the trials. The deal was signed in Amsterdam this week at ATC Global, the air navigation services industrys peak annual gathering. Remote tower technology allows air traffic at one or more remote small or medium-sized airports to be managed and controlled remotely from a single, larger air traffic services centre. The technology was developed by Saab with LFV as an operations partner and launched in spring 2009 after thorough live testing. Airservices CEO Greg Russell said the trial reflected the agencys ongoing commitment to the development and implementation of new technology to make aviation safer, more environmentally friendly and more efficient. Airservices has a proud history of adopting emerging technology for the benefit of the Australian aviation industry. This new trial will allow us to examine the possible application of remote tower technology in the Australian environment. In particular, whether the system has the potential to assist us meet demand for services in areas including the remote north-west of the country. These areas are experiencing a rapid growth in air traffic and Airservices must be prepared to provide air traffic management services when and if required as a result, Mr Russell said. This marks the international breakthrough for our remotely operated tower solution, said Per Ahl, sales director for Saabs ATM solutions. Airservices Australia will be of great importance in the certification process, and together with LFV we will be able to verify the solution in two completely different environments. Their trials will be an important reference for the Asia Pacific region. Thomas Allard, CEO LFV said: I am very happy to have such a competent partner in Airservices Australia. We share the same challenges. Even though Australia is a much bigger country we have similar problems with long distances and few people leading to high costs for infrastructure. During the Australian trials there will be no change to existing air traffic control arrangements. Airservices said any decision on the roll-out of the technology in Australia would require thorough industry consultation, a rigorous safety review, and regulatory approval from Australias Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).