IAA successfully trials remote air traffic control system for regional airports

30 Jun 2016

Shannon air traffic control tower. Image via IAA

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has announced the successful trialling of a new advanced remote air traffic control management system that will allow controllers in Dublin provide services to Cork and Shannon airports.

For some time now, the IAA has been trialling technology developed by Saab that has been developed to offer significant potential to assist air navigation service providers (ANSPs), such as the IAA, to reduce costs and offer back-up to any airport experiencing some kind of difficulty.

The biggest benefit, the IAA has said, will come to less busy regional airports where the costs for maintaining crews on the ground do not become cost-effective when the number of passengers arriving is taken into consideration.

Future Human

Rather, by introducing a remote air traffic control management system, controllers in Dublin will be able to orchestrate safe arrivals of aircraft at more than one airport at a time.

Jobs at risk?

Of course, a number of concerns arise regarding what a development like this means for air traffic controllers across the country, however, a spokesperson for the Impact trade union has said it has been having discussions with the IAA on implementing the technology.

If this technology were to displace jobs, the union has warned of potential industrial action to ensure jobs are secured.

Having partnered with the EU’s SESAR project, which aims to expand aviation technology within Europe, the IAA’s general manager of terminal services operations, Billy Hann, has said: “We are very pleased to announce that the first of these trials has been successful and we will continue in our efforts to realise the potential of this technology.

“There are many critical areas to be addressed and these trials are a significant milestone in proving the reliability and integrity of these systems. Remote tower technology will play a vital role in the future of air traffic service provision for low-density aerodromes in Ireland.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic