Learning about the experiences of air navigation service providers deploying digital air traffic control towers globally is an important step as we work to implement the technology in New Zealand.
Airways has awarded a contract to Austrian technology provider Frequentis to design and install a digital tower solution at Invercargill Airport. The tower is due to go live in 2021, following operational tests, and will operate on-site before moving to a centralised hub in the future. Plans are also being developed to install a contingency digital system at Auckland International Airport, laying the foundation for the full replacement of the existing tower.
Fully operational digital towers are in place worldwide, with trials underway at airports including London City and Changi. Jersey Airport in the Channel Islands is likely to have the UK’s first fully certified digital tower, with operational trials underway.
Jersey's digital system will provide a contingency service for the airport, with remote services for other locations to come later. Airways GM Air Traffic Services Tim Boyle and Chief Information Officer Ed Overy visited recently to see the trials.
Jersey Airport handles around 450 aircraft movements daily, with a similar mix of traffic to Auckland International Airport. There are 27 air traffic controllers working in the current tower, who are multi-validated to work across tower, approach and area sectors. All controllers have completed training in the digital tower and are reporting positively about the transition. The visit provided important insights that will be helpful in guiding Airways’ plans to deploy digital services.
We will be keeping a close watch on the digital transition at Jersey Airport.