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HIAL holds air traffic control event in Inverness

HIGHLANDS and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) is holding a consultation event in Inverness to allow interested parties to get a better understanding of its proposed new remote air traffic control system.

The event is taking place at the city’s University of the Highlands & Islands campus on Wednesday and Thursday.

The new system, which could see Sumburgh Airport’s air traffic control needs serviced remotely from a central operations centre, is expected to cost £28 million over the next 10 to 15 years.

The centre would also look after air traffic control at the Dundee, Inverness, Wick John O’Groats, Kirkwall, Stornoway and Benbecula airports.

Concerns, however, have been raised over connectivity to Scotland’s outlying airports and potential safety issues.

HIAL managing director Inglis Lyon said that “our overriding priority is and will always be to deliver safe and secure air navigation services that will keep our airports open for local communities for the long term”.

The new system has been proposed on the backdrop of staff recruitment and retention difficulties, as well as increasing cost pressures.

“Having already involved our air traffic control staff and key stakeholders in the full review of our air traffic management operations by leading aviation consultancy, Helios, this latest stage of the project showcases the remote towers solution and the way in which it will operate within our airport network,” Lyon said

HIAL chairwoman Lorna Jack added: “Increasing air traffic demands as well as resultant regulatory changes within the aviation industry means that doing nothing is not an option and we will work with our staff and all stakeholder groups to ensure that the proposals work for all involved.”

The event is also being used to give UHI students a chance to find out more about career opportunities with HIAL.