The Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey, Idaho, must relocate its air traffic control tower by 2023 to be outside of what the FAA designates as a "runway-object-free area. While the airport’s master plan evaluated conventional tower relocation options, a remote tower is now under consideration as a possibility, said airport manager Chris Pomeroy.
Remote towers employ digital technology through the use of high-definition cameras and sensors that provide air traffic controllers with an unobstructed view of the airport and surrounding airspace. “As we look ahead, we have to get serious about the planning stages and make sure we are allowing for the appropriate construction time and planning for funding. [We] need to be proactive and understand that the next five years will go by really fast, and it looks like this technology is advancing really fast. If we are a prime candidate to take advantage of this new technology, we need to analyze and study the benefits that it could provide,” explained Pomeroy.
Two pilot projects that employ digital tower technology are currently in place at Leesburg Executive Airport in Virginia and at the Northern Colorado Regional Airport in Loveland. It is expected that full certification of the Leesburg facility will be granted in the next 18 to 24 months.
“The Leesburg tower has been a really good start and we are learning more and more by the day. The benefits and some of the advancements sound pretty exciting. We have to make sure we are working closely with the FAA so that we understand its process and the move toward hopeful certification of digital tower technology. It’s exciting to see where this technology is going and it’s exciting to be exploring this option,” said Pomeroy.