The German air navigation service provider DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung has signed a contract with the Austrian supplier Frequentis to equip Saarbrücken Airport with its remote tower solution. From 2017 on, DFS intends to operate aerodrome control services at this medium-sized airport from a remote tower centre, which will be located in Leipzig. This will make Saarbrücken the first German airport under remote control. The airports of Erfurt and Dresden will follow.
The contract was concluded after an extensive tender process, which included several field tests. Within the next year, the solution will be validated and later certified for operations.
The air traffic controllers’ working positions will be equipped with advanced DFS ATS systems complemented by a reproduction of the "out-of-the-window" view. This view is displayed with a video-based panorama camera system. A pan-tilt-zoom camera will give controllers a detailed view on a separate monitor. Movements in the air and on the ground are automatically detected and displayed in the panorama view and can be tracked with the zoom camera.
The system provides controllers with an enhanced view of the airfield and the terminal area – even during adverse weather conditions and at night. This is due to an advanced thermal infrared camera technology which has been added.
DFS Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Klaus-Dieter Scheurle, said: “Our remote tower concept is based on a unique technological and operational solution. The benefits promise to be compelling. In the long run, efficiency will be improved and costs reduced. Plus, the proficiency and know-how of air traffic controllers can more easily be maintained, which sometimes represents a challenge at small and medium-sized airports with low traffic volumes. This will enhance the provision of safe services.”
The tower controllers will be cross-trained for more than one airport, enabling them to provide aerodrome control services for different airports from the remote tower centre. In this way, a more efficient and flexible shift planning will be possible. In addition, the three remotely controlled airports will have a common clearance delivery position.