Control towers are indispensible elements in the design and functionality of modern day airports. Because of their vital importance and usefulness, airport managers are forced to focus on the investment needed for their construction/renovation, or the cost of their maintenance and operation, just as with any other component of an airport.
For this reason, some low-traffic airports are forced to carefully assess the impact of the presence and operation of the different facilities on their financial results. In this assessment it is obvious that the top priority is of safety, one of the basic pillars of air traffic.
For this reason, many small airports have opted for remote control towers now that their technical and financial viability has been proven, along with evidence that they offer the required safety guarantees.
Since the first one in Ornskoldsvik/Gidea (Sweden), several other airfields have joined this initiative, which is based on the transmission of real-time footage from several dozen cameras placed on the airfield and linked to a virtual control tower located several hundred kilometres away.
It seems that in the near future air traffic control may become a telecom-based task, at least for many small airfields where the costs involved in investment and maintenance in infrastructure such as traditional towers cannot be justified.
With regard to safety, and in view of the experience in those airports where this system is already in use, remote (or virtual) control towers offer the same safety guarantees as a conventional tower. Above all, they are manned by the same professionals, following the same working principles as those used in the control towers we are familiar with.
We are sometimes wary of things that we cannot perceive directly through our own senses, but technology has now reached a level of maturity that enables certain changes with guarantees. One of these changes is related to remote control towers.