Automatic control tower installed in northern Colorado
Fort Collins – Loveland Municipal Airport (NCRA) is undergoing a new high-tech experiment that could have implications for the entire country.
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) for Aeronautics is nearing completion of a remote-controlled command and control center project.
“For the first time, information from the radar and surveillance of the broadcasting type is combined with video information from video cameras, which will provide the best situational picture of what is happening here at this airport,” said David Ulan, director of aeronautics’s CDOT department.
Three masts filled with cameras are placed along the airport in Loveland. The video stream from the masts is directed to the room, which acts as a virtual control tower of the airport.
“We will basically have what looks like video walls,” said Ulan. “When you are standing in front of them, with the help of these cameras, you seem to be looking through the windows of an ordinary airport air traffic control tower.”
Fort Collins – Loveland Municipal Airport opened in the 1960s and never had an air traffic control tower. Like most airports in Colorado. However, the airport is becoming increasingly loaded, carrying more than 90,000 takeoffs and landings amid a growing population in northern Colorado.
"This airport accepts different types of aircraft," said Jason Leacon, director of NCRA airport. “This system will help us provide security for all airport users.”
The project of a remote-controlled command and control tower cost the aeronautics department more than $ 8 million. The department works hand in hand with the US Federal Aviation Administration. Testing will begin in the next few weeks and last more than a year. Probably by the end of 2020, virtual air traffic control will be fully launched.
In the future, government officials want to expand the project to the entire state.
“We have several airports in the state that could use such an air traffic control system, even for a part of the year,” said Ulan. Montrose, Telluride, Hayden, Durango and Gunnison are some of those commercially serviced airports that do not have an air traffic control tower.
In Loveland, they are hoping that the new technology can return commercial services to them at the airport.
“This system will allow to attract additional air traffic to the airport in a safe way. As we grow over time, this system will continue to support this growth, ”said Licon. "Having a safe airport is crucial for the airport to enter the airline services market."