Digital and Remote Tower – Managing the COVID-19 Crisis


HungaroControl Senior ATM Adviser, Csaba Gergely, discusses the importance of digital tower technology during the COVID-19 crisis and recovery phase of the pandemic

At the beginning of 2020 no one could have predicted the impact COVID-19 was going to have on the people of the world and the global economy. Industries were forced to react quickly to changing conditions and restrictions as the virus spread.

The role of technology and its importance changed overnight. It became a lifeline for many and a way for many industries to pivot and provide services in a different way to ensure the health and safety of their staff and their business.

Digital airport transformations are taking place around the world. On their digital transformation journey, airports are leveraging big data to optimise all sorts of processes across the full range of operations. Digital towers harnesses the power of ATM data and artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance resilience, capacity and efficiency. Airports worldwide are recognising the benefits of this approach and are making significant advancements in the deployment of digital towers as a key building block in the airport transformation.

This digital transformation has become critical as travel restrictions and border closures amidst the COVID-19 pandemic have driven the aviation industry into paralysis. Despite being somewhat in the background, air navigation services providers (ANSP) are not immune to current circumstances. As high-reliability organisations, ANSPs are responsible for managing the critical infrastructure and services that are paramount for the safe and efficient expedition of air traffic. Even as regular commercial travel plunges to a trickle, ANSPs continue to play a crucial role in facilitating repatriation operations, freight and trade.

HungaroControl and Searidge Technologies began a partnership in 2015. The collaboration has resulted in HungaroControl being one of the first ANSPs to deploy a remote tower, which was certified in 2017. The two companies continue to expand the partnership to include a commercial collaboration, helping other airports and ANSPs introduce digital tower technologies into their operations.

During the COVID-19 crisis, HungaroControl’s experience and capabilities allowed us to successfully use the technology to safely manage operations at Budapest International Airport and leverage it as we move into the recovery phase of the pandemic, where every second movement is managed from the digital tower.

This partnership has been vitally important to our operations both now and in the future, and I look forward to sharing our experience and advice with other members of the ATM community.

If you would like to know more about the benefits of remote tower technology, the journey at Budapest International Airport, and its application in response to the pandemic, view a free Searidge-HungaroControl webinar session.