Leipzig controls the Saarbrücken airport - MDR

The air traffic controller releases at 6:53 am for the Bombadier CRJ 700 from Saarbrücken to Berlin-Tegel. But it is located in the 450 kilometers away from Schkeuditz near Leipzig. The German air traffic control (DFS) has transferred control over the Saarbrücken airport to the deadline of 4 December 2018. Saarbrücken is therefore, according to the German air traffic control, the first airport in Europe, operating remotely on such a distance. Only in Sweden there are two regional airports, which are less than 100 kilometers away and would be controlled in the same way, said DFS spokesman Stefan Jaekel.

Efficiency and flexibility

The German air traffic control promises to be this new procedure, above all of savings. Because the merger of the pilot operation at the Leipzig / Halle airport would save on the maintenance costs of buildings and infrastructure in Saarbrücken. Furthermore, the construction of a new control tower was necessary at the Saarbrücken airport. This can now be deleted.

In Schkeuditz, on the other hand, there were enough existing buildings and rooms on the ground of the airport to implement the project. This was also a decisive topic for the Leipzig / Halle airport as the headquarters of the so-called Remote Tower Control Center, said DFS spokeswoman Kristina Kelek MDR SACHSEN.

Security remains

For the laymen, the idea might be strange. Air traffic controllers give releases from Schkeuditz to pilots around the Saarland. For professionals, this is a challenge and a high-tech daily life. Even without a view from the tower, air traffic controllers keep an eye on air traffic in Saarbrücken. Infrared cameras and panoramic and tilting videos were installed at the airport, allowing a 360 degree view of Saarbrücken on Schkeuditz monitors. Riders can freely select parts of the image and enlarge the details. The static cameras for yard monitoring also belong to the device. All this exists, as usual in aviation, for safety several times.

In bad weather or darkness, infrared technology has even improved visibility, he said. The system automatically recognizes the movements and lifts the planes on the pilot's screens. And so that the weather does not sting through the remote control, the cameras are packed into heatable housings that have an automatic cleaning function.

Beginning of a new era

That air traffic controllers do not have direct visual contact with the aircraft they control is already common outside the tower. The German air traffic control monitors air traffic throughout the German airspace only from four large control centers in Munich, Langen, Bremen and Karlsruhe. "The fact that we now also monitor airport take-offs and landings at a distance is the next logical step," said the managing director of the German air traffic control, Klaus-Dieter Scheurle.

The development of the remote tower system, as aerial safety experts call it, took four years. When the four-week test phase in Leipzig is completed, the control of the airports of Erfurt and Dresden will be transferred to Leipzig in the coming months. The pilots will also have to move their workplace to the Pleiße. Because every driver is an expert for his field. They are specially trained for a particular corridor. In the long term, however, pilots will probably be trained for more than one competing sector to be more flexible at centralized switching points.

This topic in the MDR SACHSEN program
MDR SACHSEN – The Saxon Radio | 04.12.2018 | from 09:30 to regional news

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