This week’s Question: On Oct. 1, Colorado’s Fort Collins-Loveland airport was approved as the first testing ground for the Federal Aviation Administration’s own virtual air-traffic control tower system. Through a system of computers, cameras, and recording devices, human controllers would be able to sit in front of a wall of liquid-crystal displays and guide flights from many miles away.
The concept, some experts say, will add efficiency and safety at sprawling urban airports where increasing air traffic places ever-greater demands on human controllers. The remote systems also allow airports without towers to avoid the time and expense of building them, yet still attract airlines that want federally approved air control. “I do think one day it could replace traditional visual control towers almost completely,” said Paul Jones, operations manager at the U.K.’s National Air Traffic Service (NATS), which provides air navigation at Heathrow and a dozen other British airports.
What do you think? Will virtual air-traffic control replace traditional towers?