consoles for london city airport digital air traffic control tower

Consoles become part of the UK’s first Digital ATC Tower

Thinking Space Systems have provided one of their long-standing clients with air traffic control tower consoles which are not installed in an air traffic control tower. The consoles become part of the the UK's first digital ATC Tower.

As part of the project at London City Airport to replace its existing 30-year-old tower with an advanced digital system, the airport will become the first in the UK to operate remotely from a new control room at NATS in Swanwick, Hampshire. Images and data of the airfield taken from cameras located on a proposed new tower at the airfield, will be sent via independent and secure super-fast fibre networks to the new control room, some 70 miles away.

The air traffic control consoles were custom designed by Thinking Space in close collaboration with NATS , to ensure that optimum ergonomics and high comfort levels were established within the new control room. A twin controller console for the remote monitoring operations of two Controllers has been installed, along with a supervisor and support console, and 24/7 control room chairs for maximum comfort. The ATC Controllers will need to be looking up towards the live footage displayed on 14 HD screens that form a seamless curved panoramic moving image within the control room.  So that both operators achieve an ergonomic environment, the controller console is curved in design with the avoidance of sharp edges in a busy workspace.

The ability to site equipment within easy reach of Controllers was paramount when designing the consoles therefore adjustable screen mounts are fitted to the Moni-Trak perfect positioning rail along the length of both consoles.  Also included for each operator position is a VCCS unit, fitted onto a lockable arm system.  Underdesk lighting which is dimmable by each operator creates ambience and avoids glare onto screens. With advanced cable management features, access to the rear of the consoles ensures that equipment maintenance is easily achieved, particularly important in this new digital set-up. Controllers have a range of tools for enhanced viewing of the airfield’s activity, including close-ups of aircraft movements along the runway, with PTZ cameras that can magnify up to 30 times for close inspection. As well as the audio feed from the airfield, and radar readings from the skies above London, Controllers have access to real-time data such as weather information, which can be overlaid onto the displays. This will visually improve a Controllers situational awareness and enable quick informed decisions to be made, providing real safety and operational benefits.

Mike Stoller, Director, Airports at NATS, said “Digital towers are going to transform the way air traffic services are provided at airports by providing real safety, operational and efficiency benefits, and we are delighted that London City Airport has chosen to work with us to deliver what will be the first of its kind in the UK.” Find out more about the project

Derek Brien, Program Manager at NATS, said “ Due to the nature of Air Traffic applications, it is essential to have trust in a supplier that can deliver a high level of service and product on time and to budget. I have been involved in Control Tower projects over the last 10 years and it is always a pleasure to work with Wayne and his team”

Photographs supplied to Thinking Space Systems by NATS, the UK's leading provider of air traffic control services.