Saab wins contract to develop digital ATC tower at Cranfield Airport, UK


Saab Digital Air Traffic Solutions has secured a contract from Cranfield University, UK, to deploy a digital air traffic control (ATC) system at Cranfield Airport.

The advanced technology will replicate what can be seen through the windows of a traditional ATC tower via a live feed of panoramic views across the airfield using HD cameras and sensors.

The new control tower digitises ATC operations, integrates airport functions, and helps enhance an air traffic controller’s situational awareness by facilitating quick and informed decisions.

The digitalisation of the data will help enhance the operational efficiency and safety across the airport.

The technology will allow controllers to zoom in on an aircraft, providing improved visibility while offering a 360° view of the airfield.

Cranfield University vice-chancellor and chief executive professor Peter Gregson said: “The digital control tower will be a significant boost for Cranfield Airport and the research capabilities of the university.

“Combined with our existing and new facilities, the digital control tower will cement Cranfield’s place as the home of the leading aerospace research facilities in Europe.”

"The digital control tower will be a significant boost for Cranfield Airport and the research capabilities of the university."

As part of the project, the company will install a mast, equipped with cameras and sensors, at the UK airport.

The mast's recordings will be sent to the traffic control centre, where the data will be projected on to a 360° view on large screens in front of the air traffic controllers.

The technology combines image monitoring along with other systems, such as radar display, navigation aids, and information about flight plans and weather conditions, all of which are required to handle air traffic.

Besides serving Cranfield Airport, the digital tower will help improve the research capabilities of the university.

Currently, there are no operational digital control towers at any of the UK airports.


Image: Cranfield Airport in the UK. Photo: courtesy of Saab.