Remote towers can be made operational at a much lower cost than traditional facilities.
Despite more than 90,000 annual operations, Northern Colorado Regional Airport (FNL) in Loveland has never had the safety benefits of a manned control tower, until now. The Colorado Department of Transportation reports being close to completing a new remote tower project for Loveland, a facility that won’t demand the building of a traditional, expensive tall tower building. FNL serves privately-owned aircraft, commercial airliners, military aircraft, pilot training, and helicopters and is home to three flight schools, specialized aircraft maintenance services, and a 24/7 FBO.
Denver’s CBS4 TV last week said the new ATC facility will be created with a ground-level building that inside is covered nearly wall-to-wall with large video screens to deliver air traffic controllers a 360-degree view of the field in high-definition images, reported to be as good if not better, than what humans would see with their own eyes. The remote facility’s video feeds are fed by dozens of remote cameras sitting atop tall masts planted in a variety of locations around the airport. The resultant feed to controllers at FNL will also use satellite data to create both visual and radar data to help controllers keep airplanes safely separated.
The price tag to bring the remote tower facility to this point is reportedly more than $8 million. The Colorado DOT said successful testing could have the new ATC facility up and running by the end of 2020. CDOT hopes that successes at FNL could mean expanding the system to other state airports currently in need of ATC services such as Gunnison, Telluride and Montrose.