Aircraft

World-first remote air traffic control system lands in Sweden

World-first remote air traffic...
RTS uses cameras and sensors to replace conventional towers at small airports
RTS uses cameras and sensors to replace conventional towers at small airports
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RTS uses cameras and sensors to replace conventional towers at small airports
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RTS uses cameras and sensors to replace conventional towers at small airports
RTS allows several airports to be monitored from a central control room
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RTS allows several airports to be monitored from a central control room

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.

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.

RTS allows several airports to be monitored from a central control room
RTS allows several airports to be monitored from a central control room

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.

Source: SAAB, LFV

3 comments
mach37
Speaking from the viewpoint of 30+ years air traffic control experience as well as a lot of pilot experience, this is really a waste of money. If there is not enough traffic to justify a manned control tower, pilot-to-pilot communications (called UNICOM in the US) is just as effective. Unless two-way radio is required for ALL aircraft, and a rigorous compliance required for all airplanes using even low-activity airports, there is no increase in safety. The same goes for ADS-B; unless ALL aircraft are equipped with the systems, there is no increase in safety, and there are good economic reasons for NOT requiring all aircraft to be so equipped.
Frank Eigler
The "too little traffic due to lack of tower" side of the vicious-cycle only applies to those carriers that choose to (or are forced by regulation to) eschew landing at towerless airport. Pilots are trained for operating at towerless airports, so in low traffic cases it's not an inherent safety requirement. So the remote-tower widget would aid initially only those companies held back only by this (self-)regulation aspect of small airports (vs. other things like reduced on-site emergency staffing, terminal facilities, business need etc.).
Stephen N Russell
Bring this to the US, needed big time since FAA overbureaucratic for hiring air controllers for rural airports.