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London airport to get first digital air traffic control

London airport to get first digital air traffic control

London is to become the first UK city to replace its air traffic controllers with a remotely operated digital system.

Instead of sitting in a tower overlooking the runway, controllers will be 80 miles (128 km) away, watching live footage from high-definition cameras.

The new system, due to be completed in 2018, will be tested for a year before becoming fully operational in 2019.

It has already been tested in Australia, Sweden, Norway and Ireland.

The technology has been developed by Saab, a Swedish defence and security company, and will be introduced as part of a 350 million pounds development programme to upgrade London City Airport which will also include an extended terminal building, enabling it to serve two million more passengers a year by 2025.

It 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.

The London City Airport is also planning to decommission its traditional tower in 2019, replacing it with a new 164ft digital tower.

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