Airways New Zealand has demonstrated a prototype digital air traffic control (ATC) tower at Auckland Airport.

The company has collaborated with Austrian firm Frequentis to engineer the system. It is currently assessing the ability of the technology to enhance aviation safety, extend the hours of air services in more regional locations, increase resilience, and improve traffic flows in adverse weather conditions.

A digital ATC tower enables air traffic to be directed and managed by controllers in a remote location by watching live footage of the airfield from high-definition video cameras.

“Digital towers are one of the intelligent transport technologies we are looking at to modernise our air traffic network.”

Airways chief operating officer Pauline Lamb said: “Digital towers are one of the intelligent transport technologies we are looking at to modernise our air traffic network and ensure New Zealand gets the most benefit out of an increasingly complex and busy airspace.

“In future, digital towers could support greater air connectivity by giving us the option to extend services in areas of New Zealand where the costs of building or servicing a physical tower are currently not cost-effective.”

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The towers are equipped with surveillance sensors and microphones to provide the controllers with a significant amount of data.

The prototype tower is not currenly being used to manage live traffic.

Digital tower systems are currently being tested at Singapore Changi Airport and London City Airport, and are rolled out across Sweden and Norway.