Belgian air navigation service Skeyes has shown off a prototype digital control tower which will serve as a test centre for an operational facility at Namur.

Namur, which lies about 50km southeast of Brussels, will be the site of a single digital centre which, by 2026, will remotely handle air traffic at Charleroi and Liege airports. The foundation stone for the centre was laid on 9 April.

The test centre is located at Steenokkerzeel near the main Brussels airport.

“This prototype centre will enable us to familiarise our staff with the new technologies, train air traffic controllers and further perfect the ergonomics of the centre in Namur,” says Skeyes.

Air traffic controllers at the digital centre will receive high-quality real-time images from cameras, infra-red systems and intelligent sensors at the airports, projected onto large screens.

Although the screens will show a 360° panorama, ground radar will provide the location of aircraft concealed during low-visibility weather conditions.

Skeyes digital tower test centre-c-Skeyes

Source: Skeyes

Skeyes’ test centre will be used to familiarise controllers

“Augmented reality allows operators to project additional information at each aircraft which will help them manage traffic,” says Skeyes, which is collaborating with Societe Wallonne des Aeroports on the project. The test facility will be “almost identical” to the Namur centre, it adds, but without the ability to communicate with aircraft.

Liege airport’s first mast for relaying air traffic images to controllers was installed in November last year.

Skeyes claims the project will allow the management of all ground movements at two medium-sized airports to be carried out remotely for the first time, and says the integration of ground radar is pioneering.

Another digital control centre is to be created in Flanders, it adds, which will serve Antwerp, Ostend and Kortrijk airports.