Avinor, the Norwegian airport operator and air navigation services provider, opened the world’s largest remote tower centre in Norway on 20 October 2020. This important achievement would not have been possible without the R&D work performed in the SESAR 2020 programme, where Avinor was instrumental in delivering the multiple remote tower solution.

The first tower in Norway to be run through the remote tower technology was rolled out in 2019, while three more towers are being implemented. The remote towers technology will be rolled out at a total of 15 airports in Norway by the end of 2022, which will be run from the centre in Bodø.

Dag Falk-Petersen, CEO Avinor, comments: “This is the beginning of a new era of aviation. Avinor ensures the connectivity of Norway domestically and internationally. Our goal is to develop a more effective and sustainable aviation infrastructure through digitalisation and new technology. remote towers will make aviation safer and more robust through utilising advanced technology. We already have two towers operating from the Remote Towers Centre and will roll out a further 13 airport towers within the next two years.”

The solution brings together in one place a number of modules to cover several different airports. At a remote tower centre, an air traffic controller can provide air traffic services to up to three low traffic volume airports at the same time. Thanks to the pooling of resources, controllers can assist each other in cases where the traffic at one of the airports becomes too complex to handle alone. Automatic planning tools support the remote tower centre supervisor for the most efficient allocation of airports and controllers to each working position. Such a centre is being established at Arlanda to provide remote air traffic control to airports in Malmö, Östersund, Umeå and Kiruna, with one controller assigned to one airport. Norway is among the countries taking forward the ‘remote tower centre' (RTC) – intensive work is also underway in Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, as part of SESAR 2020.

The SESAR Joint Undertaking and its members have been working on remote towers for many years. First on single remote tower operations and more recently on multiple remote tower solutions. In 2015,the first multiple remote tower SESAR Solution, ‘remote tower for two low‑density aerodromes’ was delivered., while further are under development. In 2019, the multiple remote tower module was finalised, which provides advanced features necessary for controllers to maintain situational awareness for two or three airports simultaneously. The solution can be used to pair airports of different sizes, with indicative figures showing that two airports with 15,000 to 40,000 annual movements or three airports with less than 15,000 annual movements can be handled by one air traffic controller simultaneously. In cases of traffic overload, airports can be split between several modules.