Aviation history was made when the remote tower centre in Bodø went live on October 19, guiding its first commercial passenger flight to the Arctic airport of Røst in Norway.
The remote towers project in Norway is a collaboration between the airport and air navigation service provider Avinor and the technology companies Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace and Indra.
“After many years of planning, developing and testing the new technology has been successfully used within a regular commercial air traffic service with passengers. The remote towers technology is an important capability enabling a sustainable aviation service in the rural areas of Norway, many of which are in the Arctic,” said Avinor chief executive Dag Falk-Petersen.
“The remote tower technology is also dimensioned for large airports. It also provides us with the opportunity to build a robust knowledge hub for tower operators, which today are stationed in small towers in rural communities. When fully rolled out the remote towers will ensure more cost-effective airport operations and better accessibility to regional airports.”
An absolute requirement before getting the final approval from the Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority is that the remote towers technology can provide equal or better safety standards compared to conventional towers at airports. The system has now received its first stamp of approval.
“Safety is always the highest priority within aviation,” said Jan Østby, project director for remote towers at Avinor Air Navigation Services. “While we are still technically in a test mode, the first commercial passenger flight completed marks an important milestone for us. We had good contact and visuals with the aircraft during the entire approach and landing. The remote tower system functioned optimally in this operation. We have had a close dialogue with the Norwegian Civil Aviation Authorities since the beginning of this project, which has been important when introducing new technology into such a safety orientated industry.”
Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace and Indra Navia delivered technology that Avinor Air Navigation Services has used for the first time.
Calling it the most comprehensive remote tower implementation in the world, Eirik Lie, president of Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace, said the technical solution is in a class of its own. “It is unique in both the sensor technology and secure remote control system between the airport and the air traffic control centre. Going live with the first airport is a major milestone for Kongsberg as well and is a result of a great partnership between the industry team and Avinor.”
Elin Blakstad, director of tower systems at Indra, added that through SESAR projects and in collaboration with Avinor, it continues to develop its InNOVA tower system so air traffic controllers will be able to remotely manage multiple airports. “With all relevant information on a single integrated screen, and reliable communication via our GAREX voice communication systems, controllers get full situational awareness,” he said.
Parallel to rolling out the new technology, Avinor said it is also building the world’s largest remote tower centre in Bodø, Norway which is due to open in the second half of 2020 and will accommodate 15 airports by 2022.