Kongsberg showcases remote tower capabilities in Australia

Kongsberg Defence Australia, with the support of Indra Australia, recently showcased the KONGSBERG Remote Towers solution deployed at RAAF Amberley.

The remote towers solution, with its advanced electro-optical sensors, is controlled from the remote tower module (RTM) located approximately 1,200 kilometres away at Kongsberg Defence Australia’s Canberra office.

Representatives from the Australian Defence Force, Airservices Australia, and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority have attended live system demonstrations in Canberra, conducted under the sponsorship of the RAAF Air Warfare Centre Innovation Hub.

As previously demonstrated at RAAF Amberley, the RTM demonstrates high resolution real-time live panoramic streaming of imagery across an ordinary commercial point-to-point connection, providing the same ‘out of the window’ view quality as sitting in a tower at the airfield. Additionally, instant remote control of the pan-tilt-zoom camera and other system operations was available through commercial network connections, enabling remote tower operations. Live infrared image streaming is also proving to be an effective situational awareness asset at night, particularly in monitoring movements of wildlife.

John Fry, general manager of Kongsberg Defence Australia, said the new technology will advance Australia’s capacity to provide air traffic services in remote locations across the country.

“With military operations that include remote air bases, orphan airfields, firing ranges, and local civilian airports, the ability to implement stable real-time remote operations across a low bandwidth connection provides significant opportunities for a country like Australia”.

“The implementation of this technology will reduce operating and infrastructure costs, and will open up opportunities for remote locations and communities all over the country. Kongsberg Defence Australia would like to acknowledge the great team effort we have had together with the RAAF Air Warfare Centre, 44 Wing, and Indra Australia that has made this successful demonstration possible. We are now excited to explore new opportunities to field this technology in Australia and the region.”

The KONGSBERG Remote Towers solution was recently commissioned in Norway for Avinor Air Navigation Services in the world’s largest remote tower project, and this is the first installation of the system in a remote configuration outside of Norway.

The system will remain active and available for further demonstrations into early 2020.

What’s In A Name?

Kongsberg reports that its efforts in Australia have been ongoing since late 2018 and that it is funding and handling all its remote tower activities there.
“We have up to now been working together with Indra Australia on preparing and presenting the demo for RAAF, Navy, Airservices and CASA in Australia,” Kongsberg tells Air Traffic Management. “The system is now handled 100 per cent by Kongsberg only and Norway’s Avinor has not been involved in the activities.”
Avinor owns the trademark rights to ‘Ninox Remote Towers’, and it is the name of the programme, system and configuration in Norway. This includes the tight integration between the Kongsberg technology and the Indra Navia inNova solution.
For the international market Kongsberg says it is branding its offerings and value proposition under ‘KONGSBERG Remote Towers’.
“As part of Kongsberg’s international remote tower offerings, we are agnostic to including/integrating already fielded legacy automation systems (radar displays, DMAN, electronic flight strip solutions etc), new customer selected automation systems, and we want to demonstrate a flexible adaptation to customer requirements and concept of operations,” says Kongsberg’s Stig Jenssen. “We can of course also offer the exact same configuration as Avinor is implementing in Norway, if that is what the customer wants.”
One remote tower industry expert tells Air Traffic Management: “Strictly speaking the NINOX brand was created purely for the Avinor gig and they all thought maybe it would roll out worldwide. But of course they haven’t seen that. Indra want to push forward with their InNOVA brand but Avinor aren’t interested in the worldwide sell as much as LFV or NATS, and Kongsberg are trying to see if they can set up partnerships with others outside the core NINOX gang.”