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United Kingdom Transportation Technology

London City First In UK To Get Remote Air Traffic Control (bbc.co.uk) 43

New submitter lifeisshort writes: "Instead of sitting in a tower overlooking the runway, controllers will be 80 miles away, watching live footage from high-definition cameras," reports BBC. "The new system, due to be completed in 2018, will be tested for a year before becoming fully operational in 2019. The technology has been developed by Saab, the Swedish defense and security company, and will be introduced as part of a 350 million EUR development program to upgrade London City Airport. It will also include an extended terminal building, enabling it to serve two million more passengers a year by 2025.The remote digital system will provide controllers with a 360-degree view of the airfield via 14 high-definition cameras and two cameras which are able to pan, tilt and zoom. The cameras will send a live feed via fibre cables to a new operations room built at the Hampshire base of Nats, Britain's air traffic control provider." As far as reliability is concerned, "the system will use three different cables, taking different routes between the airport and the control centre, to ensure there is a back up if one of those cables fails." In spite of recent large scale hacks, what could possibly go wrong? And the next obvious step is giant Bangalore ATC outsourcing company...
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London City First In UK To Get Remote Air Traffic Control

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  • Interesting that they quote the cost in EUR - which neither Britain nor Sweden use.

    Clearly commie Belgian bastard propaganda.

  • by manu0601 ( 2221348 ) on Friday May 19, 2017 @08:01PM (#54452275)
    Is there a benefit to being remote? They could have installed high resolution cameras on existing tower.
    • by Shatrat ( 855151 )

      I would guess it frees up real estate for things that cannot be remote. It also paves the way to have multiple airports controlled by centralized large control centers, and also failing over to a geographically diverse location if needed.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Makes lot of sense me, you always want to separate an important function as far away as you can from a site it is critically needed at, so you have more points of failure and problems in general.

    • There are benefits from controlling interconnected elements from a central location. "remote" is not the benefit, but having say 5+ airports all in a similar airspace knowing exactly who is where and going in which direction can help a lot.

      Refineries and chemical plants did this years ago as well. What used to be 3-6 different control rooms spread around the site with each unit has turned into 3-6 desks in a central room to allow people to better communicate with each other.

      Now I'm not sure how much of a re

  • Does London City refer to the City of London to distinguish it from the rest of London? Or is the London airport a city unto itself?
    • It's the Airport in City of London. All of the other airports in London are actually outside of the city. Here is a link to the map at Google. https://www.google.ca/maps/pla... [google.ca]

    • by radarskiy ( 2874255 ) on Saturday May 20, 2017 @12:02AM (#54453253)

      London City (LCY) is the name of the airport, to distinguish it from the other five London airports: London Heathrow(LHR), London Gatwick (LGW), London Luton(LTN), London Stansted(STN), and London Southend(SEN). Of the six, only London City and Heathrow are within the boundaries of Greater London, neither of which are in the City of London.

    • London City Airport (LCY) is a tiny airport very close to London City. It services many domestic routes and several major routes to EU cities but that's about it. The type of airport where you can show up 45min before your flight with checked luggage and still have no problem sitting down for food before getting a flight.

      Quite the opposite of London Heathrow (LHR) which is a behemoth that acts as a hub to the entire world and will take you an hour just to get through security.

      My company has an office near L

    • Also, don't feel stupid about this.

      London City Airport (LCY) is not in London City but in Newham, and in order to get from Newham to London City you actually have to travel through City of London (not the same as London City). It doesn't make any sense to non-Americans either.

    • City of London is a part of London.
      The airport is fairly near that part. The name of the airport is ICAO:EGLC, IATA:LCY, London City Airport.

  • Almost if not every major airport in the US uses remote ATC.
    Ground control is a mix of local and remote.
    Even when it is local it is done almost always done by cameras with the controllers sitting in a below ground level room.

  • by dwywit ( 1109409 ) on Friday May 19, 2017 @10:35PM (#54452953)

    I do hope they have dedicated fibre.

    • It says they do, triplicated with diverse routeing.

      If air traffic control loses sight of the airport, things should just grind to a safe halt. Landing aircraft will still be clear to land, but nobody else will be given clearance to do anything until ATC knows what's going on again. Once they know aircraft movements have stopped, they can give ground vehicles to get out on the runway if they need to in order to fix the problem (by cell phone if all else fails). So horribly expensive in lost revenue, but safe

  • That would buy a LOT of ATC headcount.

    • It's not just headcount. If they're just moving LCY control, not merging with another airport, it won't reduce headcount. The purpose will be to reduce the land rental costs. Rental in the Hampshire countryside will be a lot cheaper than at LCY. The current trend is to move as much off airport as possible - I've been involved in the safety management of a few projects to move approach control away from airports, and that's always been the reason. I've also seen quite a few airports where the tower controlle

  • it's hard to imagine someone getting much benefit from being actually at O'Hare or one of the other huge Airports and looking out of the windows to manage air traffic. I imagine ATCs mostly gazing at antiquated radars, sweating profusely and drinking too much coffee. So it hardly seems like the job would be much different running a small airport remotely.
    • by rwyoder ( 759998 )

      I imagine ATCs mostly gazing at antiquated radars, sweating profusely and drinking too much coffee.

      ..while muttering: "Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit smoking."

  • And the next obvious step is giant Bangalore ATC outsourcing company...

    Outsourcing it to Bangalore would probably be better than outsourcing to Saudi Arabia. Hope the latency isn't a problem, or accents, or crackling of the crappy microphone and VOIP setup from the lowest-bidder call-center-style operation.
    Seriously though, I wonder why this wasn't fully-automated decades ago. Air-traffic controllers have to deal with massive amounts of information, notice if things look wrong, or if anything suddenly appears/disappears. Strikes can ground an entire airport (or collection of a

    • Because in the real world events are happening where the programmers are unaware about.

      E.g. a storm that requires planes to be redirected or volcanos as the last eruptions in Iceland, or a hijacking a medical accident etc.

      Sure you could have a "I like to land at your airport" button in a plane and computers on the ground could take over the scheduling. As soon as someone would propose a standard there would probably a decade long process of assessments for hardware/software for those standards.

      I guess the c

    • The main reason it hasn't been automated is safety. Humans might make mistakes more often than computers do, but they're far better at realising that they - or someone else - has made a mistake, and will fix things when a computer would just carry on regardless. (They're also much better at working our what to do when things go wrong and the rules and procedures can't cope.) They have a vast amount of computer assistance suggesting how to do things safely and efficiently, and warning when there might be a p

  • So a well motivated group of people with cans of spray-paint will be able to blind air traffic control in London City? That sounds like a recipe for disaster. And even if that proofs to be near to impossible due to security, it seems rather trivial for that same motivated group of people to just dig up the 3 cables and cut them at the same time. This sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel