A company is planning to build America’s first remote air traffic control center that can handle traffic from multiple airports on the site of an old Air Force Base in Alabama, the newspaper reported.
Air Traffic Control Academy Advanced ATC Inc. based in Valdosta, Georgia on Thursday announced plans to invest approximately $4.7 million in Craig Air Field, Selma Times-Journal reported. The company has also announced that it will establish an international training academy on site.
The remote tower can use cameras, real-time video and other features to remotely perform missions that air traffic controllers previously performed on traditional control towers, the company said.
Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield said the remote tower represents an important and innovative step in American airspace modernization efforts and is excited to see Advanced ATC doing pioneering work at Craig Field.
Dan Cunningham, COO of Advanced ATC, told the AP that the technology is gaining ground in Europe but is relatively new in the US.
The remote tower system is entirely new in the US, Cunningham said. He said the tower will be part of an on-site training academy where he expects to train students from all over the world, but will need Federal Aviation Administration approval before handling air traffic in the United States.
The Federal Aviation Administration has not approved the use of remote tower systems. However, Cunningham said the remote towers at both airports are currently undergoing an evaluation process and ours will be the same.
Advanced ATC officials said the remote tower could support air expansion and provide air traffic control services for up to 40 airports in the United States.
Cunningham said that advances in camera and satellite technology, which change almost every day, have made the prospect of small airports able to afford ATC services without the need to build a US$5-10 million control tower. The Selma RTC will be the catalyst for this historic change in America.
The company’s five-year plan aims to bring up to 119 jobs to Selma with a salary of $8 million. Of these, the company will hire 28 people who will operate the facility at Craig Field in the first year, with salaries of US$3.1 million.
Meanwhile, the International Training Center will provide operational training and certification to 25-50 students annually.
Monica Cunningham, President, Advanced ATC, said, “We are delighted to have reached a win-win agreement and are very excited to begin our aviation history at Craig Field.
When asked about the timeline for when the new additions are expected to go into operation, Craig Field managing director Jim Corrigan said the academy will accept first classes in He added that Craig Field will also have an air traffic control tower with staff.