The Modern Pilot News

Leesburg Airport First in U.S. To Test Remote Control Tower

The Leesburg Executive Airport is teaming up with SAAB Sensis Corp. to test a new remote air-traffic control system that eventually could be used at airports all over the country.

The Town Council in September approved an agreement allowing the company and the research arm of the Virginia Department of Aviation, VSATS, to test SAAB’s new system while it undergoes Federal Aviation Administration safety certification. The technology already is used in Sweden, but the Leesburg testing is the first in the United States.

“We want to build confidence with the to show that this can work as advertised instead of a traditional brick-and-mortar air-traffic tower,” SAAB Vice President of Communications John Belanger said.

Starting Tuesday, air-traffic controllers from across the country began a 15-week testing period during which they will participate in mock trials three days a week to see how well they work with the system.

The system won’t be used to manage actual airport operations because the technology hasn’t yet been approved, but the tests will yield suggestions and feedback from controllers.

The town’s Airport Commission has supported the development of an air-traffic control tower to better handle increasing activity. The airport ranks as the second-busiest airport in Virginia, with more than 100,000 takeoffs and landings annually.

“When traffic gets higher, that’s where controllers help to space out traffic and can additionally assist pilots in poor conditions,” Leesburg Airport Manager Scott Coffman said.

 

 

 

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