Small airports are often in a no-win situation. They don't have much traffic because they don't have an adequate tower system, and they don't have an adequate tower system because they don't have much traffic. That could be about to change, with the opening of the world's first remotely operated air-traffic control system in Sweden. Thanks to the Remote Tower Services (RTS) system, the first plane landed last week at Örnsköldsvik Airport, but it was controlled from the LFV Remote Tower Centre 123 km (76 mi) away in Sundsvall.
The result of ten years development by the Swedish Civil Aviation Administration (LFV) and Saab, the RTS system was approved for operation last year by the Swedish Transport Agency. It uses a system of cameras and sensors that beam data to a remote control facility in real time, where it is displayed on monitor screens and air traffic controllers operate normally – as if they were at the field in a conventional tower.
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According to the developers, RTS can control several airports or supplement large ones; operate on demand, at flexible hours, or around the clock.
LFV says that by parceling out the low workload of several small airports to a single control center, RTS can save on installation and running costs, adapt to changing traffic patterns, increase safety, and improve contingency operations in emergencies.
The Sundsvall-Timrå and Linköping Airports are slated to use the RTS in the near future.
"Remote Tower Services is a development programme that we are very proud of," says Olle Sundin, LFV's Director-General. "We are the first operator in the world to receive operational approval and there is a lot of interest among our customers in Sweden and around the world. RTS is an important product for us and our partners. It gives us a good position and strong competitiveness."
The video below introduces RTS.