A new (remote) control tower for City Airport

Today, in the spectacular weather that had been promised and which duly occurred, I took a walk along the river, from the Woolwich Arsenal back towards the centre of London in a westerly direction until I got to the Dome, ak these days a the O2.

I saw many things, but I only now have the energy to tell you about one of them. This:

Click to get a more panoramic view, with more context.

After much futile searching with Google Maps, I eventually just took a guess that it might be something to do with London City Airport, and so it proved. (Scroll down there and all is explained.) This is the London City Airport Digital Air Traffic Control Tower. Thanks to this structure, and thanks in particular to its numerous superzoom surveillance cameras, the people who do the Air Traffic Control for London City Airport can be miles away. Either they already are or they soon will be:

London City Airport has announced it is to become the first UK airport to build and operate a digital air traffic control tower, with a multi-million pound investment in the technology. The innovative plans are a flagship moment in the airport’s 30th anniversary year, and mark the start of a technological revolution in UK airport air traffic management.

Working closely with NATS, the UK’s leading provider of air traffic control services, London City Airport has approved plans for a new tower, at the top of which will be 14 High Definition cameras and two pan-tilt-zoom cameras. The cameras will provide a full 360 degree view of the airfield in a level of detail greater than the human eye and with new viewing tools that will modernise and improve air traffic management.

The images of the airfield and data will be sent via independent and secure super-fast fibre networks to a brand new operations room at the NATS control centre in Swanwick, Hampshire. From Swanwick, air traffic controllers will perform their operational role, using the live footage displayed on 14 HD screens that form a seamless panoramic moving image, alongside the audio feed from the airfield, and radar readings from the skies above London, to instruct aircraft and oversee movements.

That announcement happened in 2017. The tower no longer needs to be a computer graphic, because there it now is. But, I suspect, only rather recently. I think the reason I couldn’t find this Thing on Google Maps is that Google Maps has not yet caught up.

Scaffolding is not a category for this posting. It may look like scaffolding, but it’s not. That’s it.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

One thought on “A new (remote) control tower for City Airport”

  1. Comments from Michael J and me:


    Have you done the walk along the river in the other direction from Woolwich Arsenal – ie the walk to Erith? If not, I am sure you would enjoy it.

    Posted by Michael Jennings on 02 April 2019



    Yes I have, but a bit of a while back. I agree. Excellent. Although there’s a bit of a stink because of a sewage plant, as I recall.

    Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 03 April 2019

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