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Hamsphire based NATS trial world-first digital tower technology at Heathrow Airport

The National Air Traffic Service, which has two bases in Hampshire, is trialling the artificial intelligence software which could help air traffic controllers overcome visibility problems due to the weather.

The new technology gives air traffic controllers the ability to see even during bad weather which may affect their physical view of the airport.

Andy Taylor, who's Chief Solutions Officer at NATS, told us they use a range of technology in the digital towers.

That includes the latest ultra-HD 4K cameras which can give controllers a better view than they would get from looking out of a conventional tower.

He added that it also allows them to integrate other bits of data so that controllers can see labels on aircraft that they would normally just be able to see out of the window and then have to cross reference with other displays.

Currently, when visibility is poor, the rate at which aircraft can land at the airport has to reduce to allow for controllers to track landings and take-offs using radar systems.

You can watch Andy explain how the new digital towers work and why they've begun testing the software in the video below: 

Andy told us that although at the minute they're only testing the software to help controllers overcome visibility issues the digital tower has the capability of being used in a range of situations in the future.

The technology is currently being tested in a digital tower lab at Heathrow Airport but NATS say this system could soon be seen in airports around the world.

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