Scotland’s HIAL plans next step in remote tower strategy

State-owned Highlands and Islands Airports have launched a £5 million drive to find experts to help develop its planned centralised air traffic control system.

The publicly-owned company plans to appoint a panel of firms to provide technical and business support for its £28 million project to develop remote air traffic management technology where 11 airports will be managed from a centralised hub, expected to be in Inverness.

The organisation, which operates 10 terminals in the Highlands and islands including Inverness, Sumburgh, Wick John O’Groats, Kirkwall, Stornoway and Benbecula, said it expected to attract international suppliers as well as small and medium-sized businesses.

A HIAL spokesman said: “We are creating a panel of suppliers to provide technical and business support on the next phase of our ATM strategy programme. At this stage, we are paying particular focus on airspace design, procurement and cyber security. As the programme moves into the tender phase, activities will gather pace and clarification on systems and timescales will become available.”

HIAL has previously said it wants to ‘future proof’ its operations in Scotland for the next 10 to 15 years. It said the long-term remote towers and centralised approach surveillance control programme will transform operations at airports including Inverness, Sumburgh, Dundee, Wick John O’Groats, Kirkwall, Stornoway and Benbecula.

The four main elements of its strategy originally featured the replacement of standalone procedural air traffic services with a single centralised surveillance service; remote towers at all eleven airports in addition to a remote tower centre; the introduction of controlled airspace at all seven controlled aerodromes and an out of hours centralised AFISO on-call service.