With a combination of both satellite-based technology and ground-based video technology, air traffic controllers will be given a comprehensive view of air traffic.
Congratulations to CO DoT for this project
Remote/Virtual Towers great potential
Economical Solution for low activity airports
Dr. Stephen D. Van Beek, a noted aviation policy expert, wrote in 2017,Remote Towers: A Better Future for America’s Small Airports, a Reason Foundation Policy. It is a 30 page analysis of the dilemma facing smaller airports, of the technical development of these virtual facilities and their demonstrated capability to provide ATC services at an equivalent level of safety and of the costs/benefits for the utilization of remote towers at smaller airports. He concluded:
…Remote towers offer a proven alternative for the provision of air traffic services at low-activity airports. Importantly, proponents of remote towers do not intend to replace staffed towers, but rather to increase the geographic and time-of-day coverage where air traffic control is not currently provided. Remote towers also offer the FAA or ATC provider the ability to recruit controllers to more-attractive assignments.
The Leesburg and Loveland pilot projects currently under way are necessary first steps in bringing this option to U.S. airports. The potential benefits of remote towers and the business case for an expanded contract tower program are significant—whether considering safety, cost efficiencies, productivity of controllers, or benefits to airports and communities.
Such a message in Washington would ordinarily create a massive news storm. The above article, found in International Airport News, provides more hard evidence to the Van Beek thesis.
The Colorado Remote Tower Project is sited at the Northern Colorado Regional Airport (FNL) It has two runways–15/33 is 8,500 by 100 ft and 6/24 is 2,273 by 40 ft. For the 12-month period ending January 1, 2012, the airport had 107,360 aircraft operations, an average of 294 per day: 96% general aviation, 3% air taxi, 1% scheduled commercial, and <1% military. At that time there were 237 aircraft based at this airport: 89% single-engine, 5% helicopter, 3% jet, 3% multi-engine, and <1% glider.
The operations of FNL represent a relatively low activity airport, but also pose a good test of the system’s safety.
The most recent developments of the project is the three camera masts were installed; one near the FNL fuel farm, and masts on the east side of the taxiway, near each end of Runway 15/33 at the end of August 2018
CRT is a public/private partnership among the Colorado Department of Transportation’s Division of Aeronautics, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) Northern Colorado Regional Airport, and Searidge Technologies.(all of the partners are shown in the above logo, except NATCA).
- The FAA selected Searidge to install the technology and to certificate the system once ready.
- NATCA is supplying the subject matter experts (SME) during all phases of the testing of the remote tower system at the Northern Colorado Regional Airport (FNL) to evaluate the system’s efficiency. During the testing process, NATCA will provide the technical expertise from the air traffic controller standpoint and will work towards ensuring that the system meets the rigorous standards required for air traffic controllers.
- Searidge will install a mixture of satellite-based technology developed for the Mountain Radar Project with ground-based video technology to give air traffic controllers a comprehensive view of air traffic on the surface of an airport, and in the surrounding airspace. The CRT will be the first of its kind to integrate both satellite and ground based technologies to help elevate the level safety, operational efficiency, and economic environment at busy airports with uncontrolled airspace.
The Remote Tower Project will be made possible through a network of three 360 degree panoramic video and static cameras. For the test scenario at the FNL, these cameras will be securely mounted atop steel masts that will rise between 22 (end cameras) and 56 (central camera) feet above the ground.
Each of the camera masts will be erected on either end of the main runway (15/33) and one mast centrally-located near the A3 taxiway connector. This camera arrangement will give air traffic controllers a full 360 degree view of the airfield, simulating the same view one would expect if looking from a physical air traffic control tower.
The camera and satellite-based surveillance data will be fed to a remotely-located control center. During the test and assessment phase of this project, the control room will reside on airport property, but will accurately simulate a remote scenario. Future control centers can be located from a remote location.
- The Colorado Division of Aeronautics funded the $8.8 million for CRT.
August 20-23, 2018 – Camera Masts and Cameras Installed
The three camera masts were installed; one near the FNL fuel farm, and masts on the east side of the taxiway, near each end of Runway 15/33.
This “experiment” deserves national attention for the application of the equipment being installed could produce an excellent solution for many, many airports.
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