Remote Tower

In the past five years there have been numerous improvements and significant investments in the remote tower industry. HungaroControl is making intensive efforts towards implementing remote control tower for airports with medium traffic. By 2018, HungaroControl aims to operate a full-time remote tower in Budapest. Although Budapest airport will not be the world’s first remotely controlled airport, it will be the first of its size and complexity, with nearly 100,000 movements per year.

Remote Tower: a new approach for mid-size airports

The remote tower concept at Budapest airport is built on the bidirectional integration of the existing ground surveillance system and an appropriately positioned camera network, aiming to enhance air traffic controllers’ situational awareness and flight safety. The main contributors of the Budapest remote tower project are Indra Navia and Searidge Technologies.

The sophisticated ground surveillance system called A-SMGCS (Advanced Surface Movement Guidance and Control System) makes Budapest TWR capable to handle aircraft up to 70% of the maximum capacity without any visual references (typically during bad weather conditions).

Distributed fixed cameras and pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras deployed around the manoeuvering area are equipped with thermo sensors, can be controlled independently and will cover the whole manoeuvring area so the supervisor can easily adjust the visual by presets for various traffic situations and weather conditions.

The captured video stream is placed on a large video wall providing common and role-specific visual information for ATCOs. The live picture can be labelled with graphical symbols and flight data for additional information to help manage situations such as runway occupation, flight direction, etc. Furthermore, ATCOs can adjust the picture according to their preferences by using filters like geographical borders, saturation or contrast.

A-SMGCS can assign video images to any of the tracks as a video thumbnail. ATCOs can click on this thumbnail and the integrated system moves the assigned camera to this track quickly and display the live capture. Thus, ATCOs can determine what the object really is: an aircraft, an animal, a truck or a human, etc.

Successful demonstration

At the end of 2016 HungaroControl successfully completed live trails of its integrated remote tower at Budapest Airport, managing close to 600 movements without any limitations or constraints. All responsibilities were delegated to a fully seated shift including 4 ATCOs and a supervisor (total of 13 ATCOs).
The demonstration of Budapest 2.0. SESAR LSD project proved that this kind of technology is suitable for both contingency purposes and live traffic control, and supports the finalization of implementation of remote tower for Budapest.

Beyond the borders

This concept has made inroads into the international market: the emergency control centre at Dubai International Airport (DXB) could be implemented according to the suggestions of a consortium including HungaroControl. The main goal of the project was to provide a sustainable and safe contingency tower solution at 100% capacity level for Dubai Air Navigation Services (DANS) at Dubai International by relocating their aerodrome services to a remote site when needed.

Tailored to your needs

Tower independent air traffic services with high redundancy should be a perfect platform for providing aerodrome services at a cost effective level and may be a source of further business.

With this concept for medium sized airports, more valuable and customised visual information can be gained from available data to enhance ATCOs’ situational awareness and the level of safety.

Remote tower technology is a cost effective business development platform for regional and seasonal airports as well. HungaroControl is now active in demonstrating the capabilities of such systems for the entire European ATM community, under the umbrella of a SESAR LSD project called Budapest 2.0.

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