Indra and SANS, set to deploy the Middle East’s first virtual air traffic control tower in Saudi Arabia


Indra, a leading global technological engineering company for the aerospace, defence and mobility sectors, and Saudi Air Navigation Services (SANS) have signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) to develop and operate a virtual control tower at Al Ula International Airport, which thus becomes the first to enter service in the Middle East.

As a result, the two companies will lead the introduction of this revolutionary technology into a region with a large number of medium-sized airports that could benefit from its use, as they will be able to conduct all their management from a single virtual tower to reduce their operating costs and increase the frequency of flights.

The project will position the Saudi aviation sector at the forefront of global development and contribute to driving the goals set out in the 2030 Strategic Vision with which the kingdom is reinforcing and diversifying its economy.

Following the signing of the agreement, SANS CEO Abdulaziz bin Salem Al Zaid emphasized that he is confident that “this project will constitute a qualitative leap for the navigation services provided by SANS and enhance its position as one of the operators that manages its airspace in accordance with the most demanding international safety and quality standards”.

Javier Ruano, Indra’s Director of Air Traffic Management (ATM) Operations, stated that “the agreement will reinforce the commitment and close collaboration that Indra has maintained with SANS over the years. We’re redoubling our efforts to make the Saudi service provider one of the world leaders in air traffic management and equip the country with the most advanced infrastructure. Indra and SANS have once again demonstrated their commitment to ongoing innovation and the incorporation of the next-generation digital technologies that will shape the future of the sector”.

The agreement also represents a first step in the two companies’ future collaboration plans in the field of virtual control towers, which will expand their current cooperation in the area of air traffic management systems.

Al-Zaid acknowledged the support provided for this important project by His Excellency the Minister of Transport, Saleh Al-Jasser, and His Excellency the Chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority, Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al-Duailej. He also recognized the efforts of Indra’s professionals in the launching of this initiative. The project will include the training and skill enhancement of the Saudi personnel, including the air traffic controllers, engineers and technicians.

The world’s most advanced control towers

Indra is one of the main global leaders of air traffic systems and a pioneering company in the development of virtual towers.

It’s working with HungaroControl to convert the airport in Budapest into the first in a major European capital to have a virtual tower. Moreover, Norway has already implemented a tower to manage several airports which, in the future, could centralize the remote control of dozens of them, making this project one of the largest in the world in terms of the deployment of this technology.

Indra was the first company in the world to obtain authorization to operate its virtual tower without any restrictions on capacity. It’s now incorporating the use of artificial intelligence to support the work of the controllers and enable them to detect risk situations more rapidly and effectively.

As a global leader in engineering technology for the aerospace, defence and mobility sectors, the company is its customers’ technological partner for digitalization and key operations around the world. Its team of experts and its in-depth knowledge of those businesses and the latest technology, coupled with its leadership in major European innovation programs and projects to design the next generation of technological solutions, give it a differential offering and enable Indra to lead unique, highly innovative projects that will transform the future of these sectors on a global scale in the coming years.

Smart/digital towers Middle East