The 90 day operational test of the Leesburg Remote Control Tower is being conducted as partnership between the Saab Sensis Corporation, Virginia SATS Lab, and the Town of Leesburg.
Saab Sensis is the manufacturer of the Remote Control Tower product and is seeking FAA approval for deployment in the US. Virginia SATS lab is the research arm of the Virginia Department of Aviation seeking new technologies designed to improve efficiency and safety of aircraft operating in the Commonwealth. The Town of Leesburg is the owner and operator of Leesburg Executive Airport.
The technology is in no way meant to replace people. The human in the loop is essential to traffic safety and the product has the support of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. The Remote Control Tower Test at Leesburg will be staffed by certified controllers working for RVA Robinson Aviation Inc, a company that operates 97 towers across the US under contract with the FAA.
Remote Tower services can enable an airport to more economically provide tower services to a new airport without building and equipping a tower. Additionally, deployment of Remote Towers at several airports could centrally locate air traffic controllers at single facility, further reducing costs and improving staffing models.
The Saab remote tower product includes High Definition cameras and Pan-Tilt-Zoom cameras, surveillance and meteorological sensors, microphones, signal light guns and other devices for deployment at the airport. Data from these sensors are sent to a Remote Tower Center (RTC) to be displayed in real time. A controller at the RTC has the tools, in addition to live video, to operate the airport in a similar manner as he or she would in a normal Air Traffic Control Tower.