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CAAS awards contract to develop smart digital tower prototype worth close to $7 million

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) has has announced that it awarded UK-based Air Traffic Management service provider NATS a contract, valued at close to $7 million, to develop a smart digital tower prototype to be trialled at Changi Airport, over a period of 22 months.

CAAS stated that it will then evaluate the operational feasibility before determining the suitability and robustness of such a smart digital tower for a busy airport like Changi Airport.

NATS is the UK’s leading provider of Air Traffic Management services, which provides air traffic control services from centres at Swanwick, Hampshire and Prestwick, Aryshire, as well as air traffic control services at fourteen of the nation’s major airports including Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.

According to the Authority, a smart digital tower, equipped with a range of assistive functionalities and features, is envisioned to enhance air traffic management and safety of runway and ground operations, and to increase operational efficiencies at Changi Airport.

The awarded contract includes the set-up of multiple fixed-position cameras to feed live video images onto a large video wall, which will provide a similar view to what air traffic controllers (ATCOs) currently see from a physical control tower.

The trial will employ advanced camera and video stitching technologies, thus enabling better display of information. For instance, the video cameras can automatically pan, tilt, and zoom, to enable a closer look at objects and/or areas of interest.

Director-General of CAAS, Mr Kevin Shum, said, “In concert with Singapore’s Smart Nation drive, we are leveraging digital technology to transform the aviation industry in Singapore in many different ways. We look forward to working closely with NATS to co-develop the operational procedures and processes required to deploy the smart digital tower for Changi Airport. We are excited by the possibilities and remain committed to working with our industry partners to provide quality air traffic management services without compromising on safety and service levels.”

CAAS said that the tender for the smart digital tower prototype was launched on 28 February 2017 and attracted a total of three bids. All bids were evaluated based on a set of criteria, including technical expertise, company track record, and price competitiveness.