From 2019 air traffic controllers will no longer gaze up at planes from a tower to guide them onto London City Airport's tarmac. Instead the movement of aircraft will be governed by men and women sat at screens 70 miles away in Hampshire.
The Docklands transport hub has announced plans to shift the operations out of town as it becomes one of the first airports in a major capital to adopt a fully digital control tower.
In two years, controllers at the National Air Traffic Services centre in Swanick will monitor aircraft on screens using pictures from 360-degree cameras and data from sensors fitted to a specially constructed structure.
London City Airport chief executive Declan Collier said: "A pioneering new digital air traffic control system will enhance safety and improve resilience, setting a new standard for the global aviation industry to follow.
"This cutting edge proven technology future-proofs London City Airport's air traffic control for the next 30 years and beyond."
The technology, which is already in use in Sweden's Ornskoldsvik and Sundsvall airports, has been created by Saab Digital Air Traffic Solutions – a partnership between LFV, the Swedish air navigation service provider, and military defense and civil security firm Saab.
Controllers will have a range of tools at their disposal including a close-up view of aircraft on the 1.5km runway and cameras that can zoom in up to 30 times for close inspection.
Construction of the 50m digital rower at London City Airport will start in 2017 and be completed in 2018 ready for a year of testing and training.
The airport, which is currently undergoing a £350million expansion, was bought in 2016 by a consortium including Canadian pension funds.
Currently handling more than £4.5million passengers, London City is set to increase that figure by two million by 2025 with an additional 30,000 annual flights.
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