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Hebrides News


Hial - the body which operates airports in the Highlands and Islands is looking at taking in a centrally controlled system to replacing air traffic control at Western Isles airfields.


Planes could be guided by an operator based in Inverness using monitoring cameras feeding a live video stream to controllers 100 miles away in Inverness.  


Isles’ MP Angus Brendan MacNeil voiced worries after attending a briefing organised by Hial.


Mr MacNeil said: “We all value the work of the highly skilled air traffic control staff and obviously the retention of these jobs in the islands is important and HIAL have an essential role to play in sustaining airports within rural communities.


“Whilst the proposals offer some very interesting improvements in enhanced safety of the airspace in the Highlands and Islands, there are concerns about the practicality of not having on the spot aircraft information and guidance due to lack of robust communications, a point I am glad to say Hial readily conceded.


“London City Airport will have a remote control tower operating from a site in Hampshire more than 100 miles but it will have three differently routed cables for resilience.


“Communication resiliency seems to be a huge barrier to doing anything remotely in the Highlands and islands.”


He added: “I am also concerned that the scoping study which Hial compiled for ‘options for consideration’ mentions Inverness Airport twice and doesn’t mention any other airport in the area.


“This would seem to be a clear signpost to anyone involved and a leading indicator of the direction of travel in the Hial mind-set, although Hial have stressed that anything is indeed possible, however it does raise the question why one airport is given prominence over the other regional airports.”


Fresh concerns over ditching local air traffic control for video cameras

19 June 2017

Fresh concerns have been raised over plans to introduce unmanned control towers at Stornoway and Benbecua airports.