Cranfield Airport’s new Digital Air Traffic Control Centre was today officially opened by the Aviation Minister, Liz Sugg. The airport is the first in the UK to have an operational digital air traffic control centre. Image: Cranfield University

Cranfield Airport’s new Digital Air Traffic Control Centre has been officially opened by the Aviation Minister, Liz Sugg. Cranfield airport is the first in the UK to have an operational digital air traffic control centre.

Over the next few months, the airport will continue its work with the regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, to complete the transition from a traditional air traffic control tower to the new digital centre.

Aviation Minister Liz Sugg, said:

“Cranfield’s new control centre is a fantastic example of harnessing technology to improve the efficiency of flights.

“The upcoming Aviation Strategy consultation will set out how the Government proposes to encourage the use of innovative technology to achieve sustainable aviation growth and enhance passengers’ experience.”

Cranfield Airport’s new system provides controllers with a 360-degree view of the airport. It also gives the controllers the ability to zoom-in on aircraft, improving visibility.

There are no digital control towers currently fully operational at UK airports. In 2015, the airports in Örnsköldsvik and Sundsvall in Sweden became the first in the world to be controlled via digital air traffic control in Sundsvall.

Digital aviation is seen as being the next significant business transformation in the sector, and one which can support the aerospace industry towards delivering greater customer satisfaction while addressing efficiency, cost and capacity issues.

Professor Sir Peter Gregson, vice-chancellor and chief executive of Cranfield University, said:

“Combined with our existing and future facilities, it will cement Cranfield’s place as the home of leading aerospace and aviation research, at the heart of the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford growth arc.”