Farnborough Airport is to be the first UK airport to adopt a next-generation hybrid digital control tower working position.

The move is part of a new project with air traffic service provider NATS and digital tower platform supplier Searidge Technologies. New digital working capability will provide the airport’s controllers with enhancements to manage aircraft both by direct visual reference from the control tower window as they do today, and via fully interactive panoramic video presentation on screen displaying key parts of the airfield. 

Strategically placed ultra-high-definition cameras will provide the controllers with customisable views of the airfield, including around the airport’s new, state-of-the-art hangar development, Domus III, due to open next year. 

This innovation enables us to maintain the highest levels of safety and compliance, while increasing the efficiency of our airfield

Les Freer, Farnborough Airport

Not only will the cameras be able to provide views that could otherwise be distant or obscured from the tower, but Searidge’s technology platform will give the controllers access to tools which provide improved tracking of the whole airport surface via integration of new ADS-B surveillance and ‘head-up' labelling of the panoramic video. This new technology will allow the controllers to monitor individual aircraft and airport vehicles more effectively, boosting safety and efficiency especially during low visibility scenarios such as fog. 

The deployment is the first of its kind in the UK and represents the next evolution in airport air traffic management, delivering the technology enhancements of a digital solution, but within an airport’s existing control tower. 

Farnborough Air Traffic Control Tower interior

Controllers will manage aircraft both by direct visual reference and via fully interactive panoramic videos

Les Freer, Farnborough’s airport operations director, welcomed the commencement of the project, saying: “To be the first airport in the UK to introduce this new technology further builds upon Farnborough Airport’s pioneering legacy and position as Europe’s leading airport for premium air travel – this innovation enables us to maintain the highest levels of safety and compliance, while increasing the efficiency of our airfield.”

The deployment at Farnborough will be the first live deployment for Searidge Technologies in the UK, following the installation of a non-operational digital tower ‘laboratory’ at Heathrow in 2018.

Searidge has technology deployments in 40 countries around the world. The hybrid tower is one of five digital tower models it offers, catering for the smallest airports to the biggest hubs, including Hong Kong and Singapore. 

Images: Farnborough Airport