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Air Traffic Control

FLL Pioneers Panoramic “Virtual” Tower to More Efficiently Direct Tarmac Traffic

FLL Pioneers Panoramic “Virtual” Tower to More Efficiently Direct Tarmac Traffic
Jeff Edwards

The Florida airport has become the first in the US to employ a cutting edge camera-based system that allows controllers to more effectively direct aircraft on the ground.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) has relocated the controllers responsible for directing aircraft on the tarmac to a windowless room. The move might seem contraindicated, but airport officials say the shift has already made operations considerably more efficient.

Earlier this year, the airport become the first in the US to employ the new Virtual Ramp Control (VRC) system from the airport technology firm Amadeus IT. Now, rather than visually directing ground traffic from a tower perch, controllers rely on nearly 50 HD and infrared-equipped cameras to provide an even better view of the airport via two panoramic realtime display terminals.

“They have 100 percent view at this point,” Amadeus IT spokesperson Jeff Shull explained to the Sun Sentinel. “You have no blind spots.”

FLL spokesman Greg Meyer says that the $2.5 million VRC system has been in place since June. He notes that in addition to providing an added measure of safety, the new virtual control tower should help to speed operations. “If we can eliminate [delays] that the airport can control, we have an obligation to do that,” Meyers told the newspaper.

The benefits of this new technology might not be exclusive to FLL for much longer. In the month that the new Virtual Ramp Control system has been fully operational, officials from both Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) and Tampa International Airport (TPA) have reportedly stopped by FLL to see the system at work firsthand.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

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