On 21 April 2015 LFV (Luftfartsverket – Sweden) presented their first Remote Tower system in Sundsvall to the public. Those who attended this event not only saw an impressive demonstration of what is technically possible but also realised the long process from the first thought until the first official flight and the enormous efforts which led finally to success, based on cooperation of LFV and the Swedish aviation authorities. This Remote Tower was clearly a game changer of doing service provision. Digital data from remote sensors can be transported via networks practically anywhere around the globe, making it possible to separate the actual controlling person from the location to be controlled – and more, as artificial intelligence gets more and more applied.
Now, almost four years later Remote Towers are well in service in many locations, with different system lay-outs and different functionalities. Despite the reluctance of Air Traffic Controller Unions to accept the system it is working well and it will change the way of doing air traffic control more and more. In our times of change resistance to change is often the first reaction of those directly concerned. This is why they need to be involved in the design of the transition from the early beginning. So their experience and advice can be included in the necessary evolution.
We need to realise that we are just at the early beginning of a new era of advanced digital technology application. Our jobs, our life, our way to work and our communities will be changed. Remote Towers are just the beginning of a journey into a more automated and less human depending air traffic control. The human will be replaced in some functions but will always have the final say.
So, it is time to get involved in the shaping of the future instead of delaying it as long as possible, making any later unavoidable adaption to the reality increasingly difficult without facing drastic consequences.