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Digital control tower breaks new ground at Cranfield Airport

Senior executives from Cranfield University and Saab have confirmed the delivery of the state-of-the-art tower.

The technology uses a network of high-definition cameras and sensors to create a live feed of airfield activity to the air traffic controllers.

It aims to increase the operational safety and efficiency at the airport. The new tower digitise and integrate airport functions to improve a controller’s situational awareness and enable quick and informed decisions.

The new system will allow controllers to zoom in on aircraft, improving visibility, and provide them with a 360-degree view of the airfield.

As well as serving Cranfield Airport, the digital control tower will enhance the university’s research capabilities, including the Aerospace Integration Research Centre and Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre.
Cranfield University vice-chancellor and chief executive Professor Sir Peter Gregson said: “The digital control tower will be a significant boost for Cranfield Airport and the research capabilities of the university. Combined with our existing and new facilities, the digital control tower will cement Cranfield’s place as the home of the leading aerospace research facilities in Europe.”

In 2015, when the aviation authorities approved the system for operational use, airports in Örnsköldsvik and Sundsvall in Sweden became the first in the world to be controlled via a digital control tower.

A third at Linköping will become the third remotely controlled airport latert this year. Successful test installations have also taken place in Australia, the USA, the Netherlands, Norway and Ireland.

Saab Digital Air Traffic Solutions chief executive Johan Klintberg said: “We are looking forward to the collaboration with Cranfield University and the strong links they have with the industry in the area of innovative research and development.” 

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