NEWS London City Airport to get remote air traffic control

©Andrew Matthews/PA

London City is to become the first UK airport to replace its air traffic control tower with a remotely operated digital system.

Instead of sitting in a tower overlooking the runway, controllers will be 120 miles away, watching live footage from high-definition cameras.

The new system, due to be completed in 2018, will be tested for a year before becoming fully operational in 2019.

A 50-metre control tower is being built at London City airport but it will be populated by a suite of HD cameras instead of humans, as it vies to become the first major hub in the world to manage its traffic remotely.

The airport believes it will allow staff to monitor aircraft on the runway and track the skies better than before. The complete 360-degree view has been condensed into a 225-degree arc, meaning the controller can in effect have eyes in the back of their heads – even if they peruse what appears to be a banana-shaped runway. From this room, the controller can pan and zoom cameras for a detailed view, sharper than the binoculars of old.