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Tower at Menorca (LEMH) to be replaced with a Digital Tower - Spain to follow

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Tower at Menorca (LEMH) to be replaced with a Digital Tower - Spain to follow

Old 11th Aug 2019, 09:12
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Tower at Menorca (LEMH) to be replaced with a Digital Tower - Spain to follow

So according to a local magazine from Menorca, the control tower at Mahon (LEMH) is to be knocked down and replaced with a digital control tower -- much like that used in London City airport. There are also similar plans for Ligo airport in Northern Spain with the view to make this the standard across Spain going forward. AENA states it will improve "security"- but I'm a bit skeptical of this, I can't help think that a camera providing AR is better than a pair of human eyes in a tower. Although I do admit I know little of the technology or the usefulness of its operation. So I'd like to hear from you guys!
Personally, as a frequent visitor to the island I will be pretty sad to see the tower go. The tower is also used to handle VFR traffic out of the nearby San Luis (Reál Aeroclub de Menorca - LESL), and I wonder how they might be affected too.

But my questions are mainly:
  • What does the community think of this? Both at Menorca and as a possible indication of a growing trend in tower operations? Will it make it safer/more secure?
  • Is there any significant difference as a pilot dealing with a "virtual tower", with controllers possibly miles away?
  • If the tower is indeed a structural liability, is this indeed a more reasonable option than just building a new tower?
I like a tower at an airport, removing them seems to be destroying some of the character of aviation itself, but it might just be changing times, improving technology. But I'd like to hear your thoughts.

SOURCE: [I can't post images yet, so I pulled the text from the article]
The control towers at the airports in Menorca and Vigo are to be replaced with a new system that works using a complex system of sensors and cameras operating at ground level; the two airports are the pioneers in Spain. Eventually the system will be installed throughout the country and the familiar control towers will disappear.
The project will be installed over three years and the tower, which is fifty years old and has some structural problems, will be demolished. In all probability the new installations will not need a new building; technically they could be installed anywhere on the island. The cost is now known believed to be around 4.6 million euros. The system already functions in London City Airport, and Menorca, which has also been chosen to develop other future technologies will be first in Spain.
AENA the airport authorities say the system will increase security but the trade union CC00 has raised concerns as Menorca is an island and they say that any problem with the system could isolate the island. They want the tower to run alongside the new system at the beginning adding that AENA has not had a meeting with their committee as it is obliged to do-updating them on the new technology and explaining if it is going to affect jobs.
AENA has also announced that the VIP lounge, the first in the fifty years of the airport's existence, has been finished; it has been named the Sala Tramuntana after the prevailing north wind in Menorca (that should fill nervous passengers with confidence!). It is on the third floor and measures over 200 sq. mts. It is calculated hat 18,000 passengers will pass through the installations paying 20 to 30 euros. The lounge will be open from 6am to 12.30am in the high season and 10pm in the winter Multi Servicios Aeroportuarios SA has paid 246,148 euros to run it
JackPerry is offline  
Old 11th Aug 2019, 16:23
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Benefit, controller can see thru fog, as the cameras are infra-red sensitive.
safelife is offline  
Old 11th Aug 2019, 16:57
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Originally Posted by safelife View Post
Benefit, controller can see thru fog, as the cameras are infra-red sensitive.
Couldn’t this benefit be provided within a traditional tower by means of equipment on the control desk ?
kcockayne is offline  
Old 12th Aug 2019, 07:49
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Originally Posted by kcockayne View Post


Couldn’t this benefit be provided within a traditional tower by means of equipment on the control desk ?
As the ILS at Mahon is only Cat 1 I doubt infra red cameras would help.

It is likely Digital Towers will be used whenever the bean counters can see there will be a saving. If you are a controller at an airfield that needs a new Tower don't be surprised if you have to move to a new location, possibly hundreds of kilometers away.
EastofKoksy is offline  
Old 12th Aug 2019, 21:11
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Also I don't think infra red will see through fog as well as people assume it will. I went on a flight with a SAR helicopter and the infra red kit on that will only see a few hundred metres through fog. SMR is much more useful.

EastofKoksy has the answer though, the economics only really stack up when a new building is required, or if they can get people to hold multiple validations.
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