Jersey tests remote tower concept

08 March 2017
Aerial view of Jersey Airport, where a remote tower facility will provide contingency service and meet potential demand for third-party services. Source: Ports of Jersey

A project in the Channel Islands forges a different route from other remote tower initiatives

Ports of Jersey plans to introduce remote tower services (RTS) as part of a broader strategy to ensure service continuity for the airport and airspace surrounding the Channel Islands.

A new control tower, completed in 2010, houses support services and radar operations at one airside location, handling some 90,000 movements annually of which just over half land or take-off from Jersey Airport. The initial focus of Ports of Jersey was to meet its obligation to provide contingency radar services. However the management board has expanded the project to also protect against the loss of tower services.

"Ports of Jersey made a business decision," ATC projects manager Marcus Cochrane explained to Jane's . "The remote tower has to fulfil two criteria. The first is to ensure business as usual. But we also believe there is a commercial opportunity from having an established, certified facility. There are options to provide services within the UK and further afield as well as offer consultancy."

The Jersey project could be applied to similar environments in the future. "We are in the middle of establishing a baseline of what we currently do in terms of the physical environment and the movements of the controller. It is all very well trying to replicate the out-of-the-window view, but is that absolutely necessary to provide air traffic control [ATC] for contingency operations?" asked Cochrane.

The contingency radar facility at Jersey Airport, certified in late 2016, ensures resumption of operations within 20 minutes of any failure. (Ports of Jersey)The contingency radar facility at Jersey Airport, certified in late 2016, ensures resumption of operations within 20 minutes of any failure. (Ports of Jersey)

His team is working with experts from Cranfield University to measure details, such as eye movement, response times, and fatigue to build up a picture of what a Jersey controller actually does. This includes identifying areas of interest caused by holding points, taxiways, and runways.

VCR design

Since the decision was taken in mid-2016 to develop a RTS, Jersey controllers have been actively involved in designing the remote visual control room (VCR).

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