US virtual tower set to become reality?

A decision whether to build the USA’s first virtual tower at a cost of nearly $3 million is due come up for a vote this month.
Raleigh County Memorial Airport’s advisory board was presented with a technical report undertaken by Dr David Byers, a senior development professional for Quadrex Aviation LLC in Melbourne, Florida, following a recent research project.
Byers report states that traditional control towers are becoming more costly, and many airports are battling to keep up with the rising costs. And despite NextGen efforts, with air traffic down, he said around 250 towers would likely need to participate in a cost-sharing programme or find extra funds to make up shortfalls.
Airport Manager Tom Cochran said he expected the authority to decide on the proposal at its October meeting.
Republican congreesman Nick Rahall, a senior member of the US House Transportation and Infrastructure, pledged that he and Senator Jay Rockefeller, as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, would try and find federal funding for the virtual tower. “It makes a great deal of sense,” Rahall said of Byers’ proposal.
Byers prepared a conceptual plan for the Beckley airport and all the phases of the project, known as SATAS, an acronym for Synthetic Air Traffic Advisory Systems. The report states that an independent weather observation would be necessary, and the system would have to be capable of making a 10-mile radius sweep with its radar.