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Transport / HIAL issues £8.5m tender for remote air traffic control services

Sumburgh Airport. Photo: HIAL

HIGHLANDS and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) is moving ahead with plans to centralise air traffic control in Inverness by issuing an £8.5 million tender for services and supplies.

The contract will include the supply and installation of remote tower equipment, and associated support and maintenance services.

The company is planning to carry out traffic control services for airports in Sumburgh, Dundee, Inverness, Kirkwall and Stornoway remotely from a surveillance centre in Inverness.

The tender, however, states that “HIAL reserves the right to add or subtract airports and/or to phase the introduction of the remote tower solution at any airport(s)”.

The contract will also include “supply of compatible system components, spares and maintenance, for the named airports, and any other airports served by the combined surveillance centre (whether or not owned and/or operated by HIAL), for the lifetime of the system”.

The start date of the contract is listed as 1 December 2020.

It follows HIAL tendering for an air traffic control simulator which will be used for training, particularly for when the company takes radar approach services at Sumburgh in-house.

There are concerns over HIAL’s proposals from politicians, local authorities and unions in a number of areas such as the effect on local employment.

HIAL say the plans will “modernise the way airspace is managed and, importantly, deliver safe and secure air navigation now and in the future”.

It believes it will address “underlying structural air traffic control issues, as well as staff retention and recruitment challenges across many locations”.