Testing of a remote tower will resume this summer at Virginia’s Leesburg Executive Airport (KJYO), requiring pilots flying under both VFR and IFR to contact the tower.
The remote tower concept uses a variety of high-definition cameras and sensors to enable controllers in a remote facility to manage airports that do not have a tower, explain officials with the National Business Aviation Association.
For the tests, a mobile air traffic control tower was placed at KJYO. Working on the tests are FAA officials, as well as officials with the Virginia Small Aircraft Transportation System Laboratory. The tests are evaluating technology from Saab Sensis’ to determine the safety and practicality of the remote tower concept for possible use at Leesburg and, eventually, other airports.
The FAA plans to initiate Phase 3a of Leesburg’s remote tower program on June 25. For approximately the first 30 days, the hours of operation will be 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. local time.
Pilots using KJYO during the test period, even those who frequently fly into the airport, should play close attention to NOTAMs, said Heidi Williams, NBAA’s director of air traffic services and infrastructure.
Williams emphasized that pilots should continue to follow the conditions of the KJYO Maneuvering Area, which are detailed in the special flight rules area NOTAM.
The cost of implementing a remote tower “is significantly less than doing a full stand-up tower,” Williams said, adding remote towers offer the “benefit of controlled traffic at airports that are unable to afford the construction and maintenance of a full stand-alone tower.”
The remote facilities offer an enhanced layer of safety at what otherwise would be an uncontrolled airport, she noted.
KJYO has a single 5,500′ runway. The airport, which is owned by the town of Leesburg, had an estimated 117,000 operations in 2017, based on FAA terminal area forecast data. There are about 250 aircraft based at the airport.