Air navigation services provider Airways has awarded a contract to Austria-based technology company Frequentis to develop a digital air traffic control (ATC) system for Invercargill Airport in New Zealand.

The new remotely operated digital ATC tower will provide improved aviation safety and weather resiliency, as well as the option to deliver extended levels of services in the country.

Airways air traffic services general manager Tim Boyle said: “A digital tower at Invercargill Airport is the first step in our journey to modernise the way we provide air traffic services at airports.

“We’re excited about the safety and efficiency advantages the technology offers to the airport, airlines, and ultimately travellers.”

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Airways and Frequentis will collaborate to deploy the digital system at the airport under the contract.

“We are absolutely delighted to have been selected by Airways New Zealand to implement the Frequentis smartVISION solution in Invercargill.”

Upon becoming operational by 2020, the digital tower will initially be operated by controllers based at the airfield. The operation command will subsequently be transferred to a centralised hub to deliver services to various regional locations.

Digital tower technology allows controllers to manage air traffic, even in low light, or during adverse weather conditions.

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Its augmented reality features provide aircraft information, including altitude and speed in real-time, to be overlaid on screens.

Frequentis Australasia managing director Martin Rampl said: “As the application of remote tower technology becomes more widespread, the safety and capacity benefits that controllers can obtain become clearer.

“We are absolutely delighted to have been selected by Airways New Zealand to implement the Frequentis smartVISION solution in Invercargill and very much look forward to supporting them in their goal to enhance their regional air traffic control services.”

Airways is planning to replace its existing network of ageing towers with digital air traffic services in the future.

After Invercargill Airport, Airways aims to install a digital tower at Auckland International Airport in 2020.