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Selma airport to get high-tech air controllers who “phone it in”

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Selma is set to be the home of the nation’s first airport where air traffic controllers, at an offsite location, guide aircraft through takeoff and landing. Advanced ATC, incorporated chose Craig Field in Dallas County to host a Remote Tower Air Traffic Control Center. The so-called “RTC” would take the place of air traffic controllers who typically work inside a tower at a given airport. The new center will route airplanes using cameras, real-time video and other technologies. Advanced ATC will spend nearly $5 million dollars to install the system at Craig Field, which is a former U.S. Air Force Base. No remote tower centers are currently in operation in the U.S., though the technology is rapidly gaining popularity in Europe. Craig Field will also be the location for a training academy for remote air traffic controllers as the technology spreads across the United States. Advanced ATC plans to hire close to thirty people for the Craig Field operation in the first year. The employment figure is expected to rise to over one hundred within five years, creating an annual payroll of $8 million dollars.

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
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