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Remote towers

Old 21st Feb 2019, 09:47
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Remote towers

Apparently Cranfields ATC staff have been trained up in the new remote tower, but one glaring operational issue, possibly affecting safety where no radar is installed, has been identified because the controllers cannot see what is happening overhead the airfield, only around the airfield so' for instance' they cannot watch overhead joiners from the remote facility.
Surely this is something the makers should have pointed out to the University Management when selling the system to them?.
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Old 21st Feb 2019, 11:45
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I've yet to see a VCR with a fully glass roof - leaving a large cone of invisibility above the ATCO on most airfields. I'm not a fan of remote towers, but I don't think blind-spots in the overhead are going to be the deal-killer.
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Old 21st Feb 2019, 15:34
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I tend to agree with you, Dan, but chevvron has a point. The lack of visibility above the tower is something that is not desirable - & which ought to have been rectified.
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Old 21st Feb 2019, 16:25
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I'd have thought that an overhead view from a camera on the roof would have been very easy to arrange.
Unfortunately, as in many things, these days "progress" seems to mean nothing but saving costs.
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Old 22nd Feb 2019, 00:33
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Cranfield don’t have a ‘remote tower’ they have a digital tower.

Most towers have a solid roof, the ones I worked in while in the UK all had lots of activity overhead the tower not visible to the ATCO.

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Old 22nd Feb 2019, 11:28
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Does Cranfield’s digital tower not have a PTZ?
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Old 22nd Feb 2019, 15:56
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Originally Posted by ShyTorque View Post
I'd have thought that an overhead view from a camera on the roof would have been very easy to arrange.
Unfortunately, as in many things, these days "progress" seems to mean nothing but saving costs.
And there it is summarised in 1 sentence. Progress=cost cutting. Safety can be still proved on paper by any number of risk assessments by people who have long since lost touch with reality, they have either been promoted and forgotten what its actually like, or they are some type of university direct entrant whizz kid with a reputation to build and an ego that knows no bounds. The race to the bottom continues and is gathering speed.
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Old 22nd Feb 2019, 20:14
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Coming big time to HIAL apparently. They've had a 'scoping study' by independent consultants. Seven airfields will be done from EGPE.
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Old 23rd Feb 2019, 13:28
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  • Academic whether it is technically "remote" or not - it is remote from its logical, historic location!
  • You know where an aircraft joining overhead is when the pilot reports overhead - it is in the overhead!
  • However, in a proper tower, you can move around to peek outwards and upwards if necessary.
  • In another 20 years or so, somebody will re-invent the traditional tower with all its advantages, as a promotion vehicle for that new management generation.

    2 s
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Old 25th Feb 2019, 14:23
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Originally Posted by 2 sheds View Post
  • Academic whether it is technically "remote" or not - it is remote from its logical, historic location!
  • You know where an aircraft joining overhead is when the pilot reports overhead - it is in the overhead!
  • However, in a proper tower, you can move around to peek outwards and upwards if necessary.
  • In another 20 years or so, somebody will re-invent the traditional tower with all its advantages, as a promotion vehicle for that new management generation.

    2 s
- Academic for Cranfield, yes. Not academic for many other control towers where relocation is an issue.

- I agree wholeheartedly with your point about the overhead. Where I would take issue is the design phase. IF there is less view than in a conventional tower then your point has merit. BUT I would suspect that any company in this field (in this case SAAB), and the ANSP, and the CAA, would not countenance a worse view than any existing tower - including the ability to “peek outwards and upwards”...

- As for 20 years time...I don’t know what the future will bring...much as I didn’t know 20 odd years ago that we’d be discussing remote/digital towers. I’d suspect (barring some sort of technological warfare) that digital towers are here to stay - whether remote or not. The possibilities of “digitalisation” will rule, in time. Data, data, data. Decision-making? AI. Takes the human risk element out (pretty much). First it’ll be “tools to assist the controller”, then “progressing” to remove/mitigate the human element. Cost matters. Esp when you need to add a visa to visit your nearest neighbours...(oops, that’s another thread!)
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Old 25th Feb 2019, 17:52
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You know where an aircraft joining overhead is when the pilot reports overhead - it is in the overhead!
In ideal circumstances, maybe. On the other hand, over the years I've seen pilots report "Overhead" an airfield in completely the wrong place and sometimes without first making any other calls when joining. Only a few weeks back I called "overhead" only to hear another pilot, after being quizzed by ATC, also call "overhead" and at the same altitude as I was. He didn't have his transponder selected on, either.

That caused a few anxious moments on our part, but after some frantic head swivelling, I spotted him a long way from the field in our four o'clock. He can't have even been inside the ATZ when he made his "overhead" call and had probably misidentified the field altogether.
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Old 25th Feb 2019, 17:58
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good egg,

surely 'Artifical Intelligence' is only as intelligent as the humans who designed and programmed it in the first place?

Went to Sainsbury's today too. The 'vinyl' album display is getting bigger each week.
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Old 25th Feb 2019, 18:57
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Do these things have an audio feed, too? Full stereo or better still, surround sound would be my preference.
Lot of audio cues tower controllers can pick up on at times.
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Old 25th Feb 2019, 19:06
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Tarq,

I believe NATS have investigated that aspect and may even be providing it for EGLC?
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Old 25th Feb 2019, 21:16
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Originally Posted by Tarq57 View Post
Do these things have an audio feed, too? Full stereo or better still, surround sound would be my preference.
Lot of audio cues tower controllers can pick up on at times.
Depends on the tower!
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Old 25th Feb 2019, 22:13
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Cost cutting and technologies that reduce staff numbers have been leading the way for the last 20 years. As much as I don't like to lose staff like everyone else, what are the safety statistics saying? I don't think cost cutting over the last 20 years has made us less safe. Has it?

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Old 25th Feb 2019, 22:56
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Originally Posted by mike current View Post
Cost cutting and technologies that reduce staff numbers have been leading the way for the last 20 years. As much as I don't like to lose staff like everyone else, what are the safety statistics saying? I don't think cost cutting over the last 20 years has made us less safe. Has it?
What I've seen is that new technologies - sometimes touted as the way forward/it's what the customer wants/it will improve safety/it will cut costs - often doesn't live up to the hype.
You take a new software to do a job. There are usually ongoing bugs to re-code. Then, when the hardware platform needs to be "upgraded", in some cases the software doesn't work properly with the new hardware. Long story short, it ends up costing a lot.

I don't know if it makes us more or less safe, in some cases the tech improvements make up for any shortfall in staff numbers and abilities. In others, probably not so much.
Statistics only tell part of it. An incident doesn't receive the same level of investigation and probing as a full-on accident, and fortunately, those are incredibly rare.
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Old 25th Feb 2019, 23:18
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Cost cutting in staffing is chronic and has made ATC everywhere much less safe. So why is there no outcry? I'd liken it to smoking in the 1960s - everyone was doing it and it was thought to be unhealthy, but the risk was downplayed. Smoking tends not to kill you straight away and some smokers live to very old age, but nobody today would argue that it is good for your longevity.
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Old 25th Feb 2019, 23:59
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I can confirm that the EGLC digital tower has sound.
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Old 26th Feb 2019, 05:07
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Talking about cost cutting: do we really need these control towers at all on such relatively low-traffic airfields? Couldn´t the airport be also used while the tower was not operating? If it was all about cost cutting and thus making airports more attractive there are more pragmatic solutions.
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