Remote tower study planned for Emden, Braunschweig Wolfsburg

Two airports in Germany’s Lower Saxony have commissioned DFS Aviation Services, a subsidiary of German air navigation service provider DFS, to conduct a feasibility study on the use of remote tower technology.

The study will investigate if providing air navigation services remotely at the airports would be feasible and efficient. The results are expected in Spring 2020.

A remote tower control centre (RTC centre) might be able to replace the function of the existing tower at Braunschweig Wolfsburg airport, various locations at the airport are being examined for their suitability as part of the study.

The focus at Emden Airport will be on if and how the aerodrome flight information services (AFIS) could be integrated into a RTC centre. The study will examine advantages and disadvantages and analyse existing technology at the airports and any camera and sensor technology required. 

A RTC centre could reinforce Braunschweig Wolfsburg as an important location for aviation and research, and secure its future positioning. Such a centre could be used to integrate additional airports in Lower Saxony or airports in other neighbouring German States.

Michael Schwarz, managing director of Braunschweig Wolfsburg Airport, said: “As a research airport it is important for us to be involved in the development of this leading-edge technology.” Olaf Schmidt, managing director of Emden Airport, explained: “As a leading airport for the offshore wind industry on the German North Sea coast, it is our aim to continue to provide modern and efficient services in the future.”

Remote tower solutions can ensure the efficient and effective provision of air navigation services at airports. Camera technology replaces the view from the control tower, allowing air traffic controllers to monitor the airport remotely. Costs for buildings, infrastructure and operations can be reduced and processes simplified. For example, new control towers do not need to be built to replace control towers near the end of the useful lives. The approaches are varied and can be customised as necessary.

At the moment, remote tower is one of the central issues impacting the air traffic control world. “The DFS Group has made its own real-world experience in this area. Our parent company already has its own approach in operation. We are more than glad to be able to incorporate the lessons learnt into this study and jointly examine solutions that fit each airport’s needs and offer an integrated perspective,” said Andreas Pötzsch, managing director of DFS Aviation Services. 

DFS opened its own remote tower control centre in Leipzig at the end of 2018 which controls traffic at Saarbrücken Airport, 600 km to the west, from there. Erfurt and Dresden airports in Germany are scheduled to be controlled from Leipzig in the future.