Background and Purpose
Remote towers are the unmanned aerial vehicles for Air Traffic Control. SAAB has been testing remote towers for years in Sweden and has begun testing in Norway and India. With increasing positive testing, remote towers have shown to be a practical use within the National Airspace System (NAS). Concern for remote towers lies within their safety and if they truly can create a cost effective solution to smaller Air Traffic Control Towers. This report analyzes the feasibility for the FAA to utilize SAAB’s remote tower within the NAS
Sources of Data
This report contains current information from respected industry professionals including but not limited to the FAA, SAAB, and Luftfatsverket (LFV). The author’s knowledge from previous remote tower presentation and experience working with air traffic control adds to this feasibility analysis. The author is currently enrolled in Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Air Traffic Management major degree program.
Scope of Analysis
This feasibility analysis focuses on the following topics:
• Remote Tower Safety
• Improved Operations
Luftfatsverket (LFV) – The regulatory body for Swedish airspace.
It is has been found that it is feasible for the FAA to implement SAAB’s remote towers within the NAS. With the technology built into the remote towers there will be no degrade in safety at airports. The remote towers will actually increase the safety at airports. The remote towers have lower costs to build and maintain the towers. While changes in regulation will be required to implement this technology it is feasible for this technology to be implemented.
Remote Tower Safety
Safety is one of the major problems with implementing new technology. Remote towers will have to be safer than existing manned towers.
Existing towers use radar, ASDE-X, and visual methods to separate aircraft. Remote towers use the same methods as existing towers with some more additional methods including tracking and infrared cameras. As of writing this report there has not been any reported accidents during the testing of remote towers in Sweden that were caused by using remote towers. With object tracking built into the cameras the controllers can constantly see where the aircraft are located while they are flying and not have to look down at the radar. Figure 1 demonstrates how the object tracking system will look to a controller.
When communications are lost with an aircraft the tower uses a light gun. SAAB’s remote tower also has a light gun for the same reason. The problem with SAAB’s light gun is that it relies on having a connection with the airport and the remote location. If a loss of connection were to occur the aircraft landing at the airport will have to rely on other airports to guide them into the airport causing an increase likely for an aircraft accident.
With the built in features the remote...