Tours airport will be controlled remotely!

The concept of a remote air control tower, or remote Tower Center, arrives in France. It is from a center located at Toulouse-Blagnac airport that air traffic at Tours airport will be managed from 2024. Explanations.

The process is called remote tower centernamely remote control serviceeither advanced digital tower (DAT). It is the dream of accountants and managers of air traffic control services, especially when an airport is rarely used. The idea is to control the air traffic from a remote airport, from a hub that may be located hundreds of kilometers away. Air traffic controllers not only manage flight approaches and safety without visually seeing them, but also taxi, takeoff, landing and parking maneuvers.

The first experiment in France will concern the airport from Tours-Val-de-Loire. Work will begin in the next few days and the new “tower” should be operational within six months. Initially, the tests will be carried out until 2024 with the presence of on-site and remote controllers. The control center will be approximately 500 km from Tours to Toulouse.

To begin with, the remote controllers will only manage the part of the IFR traffic, that is, the flights with instruments and without visibility. This applies to everyone the airplanes line and commercial VFR flights, which mainly refer to recreational aviation, will be managed and combined with other flights. To manage taxi traffic on the taxiways and monitor takeoffs and final approaches, the new tower will be equipped with a large antenna equipped with 18 cameras. are these” eyeseyes which will allow remote controllers to scan the sky and terrain as if they were there.

Who says aviation, says maximum security. Additionally, to handle remote flights, optical links are physically duplicated with two different carriers to improve reliability. On the cybersecurity side, that is, where zero risk is far from existing, as demonstrated by the various cyber attacks of hospitals, the company frequent in charge of the system remote tower center He shows that he is confident enough to take on this challenge.

As with this example for the Air Force in Brazil, the 18 cameras at Tours airport will allow operators 500 km away to see air traffic around and on the runway from a large wall of screens. © Frequent

Up to five airports controlled by one hub

So why set up this “first” in Tours? Previously, air traffic was mainly managed by air traffic control. military due to the presence of the hunting school in the field. However, from July 2021, the airbase closed and the school joined the one at the Cognac base. With the departure of the military air traffic controllers, the question of closing the tower, and therefore the airport, to commercial flights arose.

It must be said that it is an airport with traffic limited to 180,000 passengers a year with the majority of connections made by Ryanair during the summer period. As is often the case with small airports with few passengers, management remains a abyssabyss financial for the community, even if it remains quite profitable for the company delegated to the public service contract. This first deployment of a remote tower center Don’t let anyone lose out on this story and keep the airport open.

If this arrival is the first in France, this concept has been discussed and developed for ten years. The first deployment of such a structure dates back to 2015 in Sweden. Since then, other projects have sprung up in other Nordic countries or in the UK, Belgium, Germany and Brazil. In the case of the French project and in the future, the goal is to control up to five regional airports from the remote hub of Toulouse-Blagnac airport. Therefore, we should see other regional airports lose their local air traffic control service in the coming years.

Dennis Alvarado

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