Feasibility of Remote Tower Technology at Dublin Airport

With increasing growth at Dublin Airport, the Irish Aviation Authority commissioned Helios to assess the options for a new control tower.


Irish Aviation Authority (IAA)


Dublin Airport has seen sustained traffic growth in recent years, and this trend is forecast to continue. The airport is already operating at full capacity for a large proportion of the day, so in April 2016 the Dublin Airport Authority announced the planned construction of a new parallel runway. Servicing this runway will require the IAA to implement a new tower Air Traffic Control (ATC) facility as the existing tower will not provide line of sight to the threshold of the new runway, and cannot be expanded to accommodate the additional controller working positions required. In anticipation of future growth, the IAA had begun the design for a new visual control tower in 2007, and been granted planning permission for the development of a new 86.9m tower. However, recent developments in 'remote tower' technology offered the potential of a new alternative to the traditional visual control tower. Helios was commissioned to assess the options.

Role of Helios

Helios was asked to determine the operational and technical feasibility of implementing a remote tower solution, capable of providing an ATC service by the end of 2019. Given the tight timescales for operations on the second runway, the IAA needed to decide on the way forward as soon as possible, so the study was started and completed within 10 weeks. The assessment was based on the given timescales, the known capabilities and maturity of remote towers (as at April 2016), and the operational environment and local factors at Dublin Airport.

The study team examined the key steps and approximate timeline that would be required to implement a Remote Tower Solution at Dublin. The steps included:

  • Regulatory and safety approval, supported by a safety case in line with appropriate certification standards;
  • Operational endorsement, including the necessary studies and trials to manage the impact on human performance as well as to develop training and procedures;
  • Mature technical requirements and system transition process, including solutions for systems integration and well defined technical specifications;
  • Consulting with stakeholders including airlines and regulators, to determine whether there was buy-in and support for the move to a remote tower ATC facility

Two meetings with major stakeholders were held to collect input and opinions, and to ensure a transparent decision-making process. The feasibility study considered a range of options and variations and excluded them for a range of reasons, concluding that the decision should be between:

  • A new visual control tower (VCT); or
  • Deployment of a remote tower solution (RTS).


The study provided a status of RTS implementation around the world and case studies on both VCT and RTS implementations to provide additional context to the decision-making process. The results and recommendations were presented to the CEO, providing the evidence needed for a decision to be taken.

For further information on this project please contact James Hanson

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