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City of Concord and KONGSBERG complete first milestone toward air traffic management modernization

Seated (left to right): Eirik Tord Jensen, President of Kongsberg Defense Systems, Inc., USA;...
Seated (left to right): Eirik Tord Jensen, President of Kongsberg Defense Systems, Inc., USA; Lloyd Payne, Concord City Manager. Standing (left to right): Josh Smith, Assistant City Manager; Stig Jenssen, KONGSBERG; Chris Ferrell, Sontaie Enterprises; Harald Kleven, KONGSBERG; Mayor Bill Dusch, City of Concord; Brian King, City Council Member; Dirk Vanderleest, Aviation Director, City of Concord; LeDerick Blackburn, Assistant City Manager.(City of Concord)
Published: Apr. 20, 2022 at 6:11 AM EDT
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CONCORD, N.C. (WBTV) - The City of Concord and Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace (KONGSBERG), a global provider of high-technology and mission-critical systems, formalized a partnership agreement for the modernization of Concord-Padgett Regional Airport’s air traffic control system. Concord-Padgett Regional Airport is the first in North Carolina to introduce and test remote tower technology.

“In Concord, we are known for our high-performance living and are proud to be a leading destination for innovation and excellence,” said Concord Mayor William C. “Bill” Dusch. “We are excited to partner with KONGSBERG to deliver cutting edge aviation services that will drive economic growth and transform air traffic management across our region, state and country.”

City officials and KONGSBERG senior executives formally signed the partnership agreement during a ceremony at Concord-Padgett Regional Airport on Tuesday, April 19. The agreement enables the installation and eventual certification by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the Kongsberg Remote Tower System at the airport. This system replaces traditional airport air traffic control towers with a remote tower with built-in smart technical capabilities. The remote towers are operated by controllers from a Remote Tower Control Center, which may be located at an airport or miles away.

“The fact that we have entered into a formal, long-term agreement with the City of Concord shows the progress and commitment being made between the parties and to Remote Tower technology,” said Eirik Tord Jensen, President of Kongsberg Defense Systems Inc., USA. “Remote Tower technology represents a cost-effective solution for the future of air traffic management. Now the team moves on to the next major milestone of making the Kongsberg Remote Tower an operational installation to begin its FAA Type Certification in 2023.”

The partnership agreement comes at a pivotal time in Concord’s growth. The city grew over 33% in the last decade and is now one of the largest cities in North Carolina. City leaders are continually working to identify and implement initiatives that respond to the challenges and opportunities that come with being one of the fastest growing cities in the country. The partnership with KONGSBERG will enable the city to modernize the airport’s aging air traffic control infrastructure by leveraging the new technology’s potential to reduce costs.

“It’s important to address the issue of rising costs for our brick and mortar tower and identify innovative means to meet our changing airport operating environment,” said Dirk Vanderleest, Aviation Director, City of Concord. “Remote Towers have been designed to enable more efficient, cost effective air traffic management which is welcomed news for our airport and many others across the country. We look forward to working together with KONGSBERG, the FAA, and our Air Traffic Controllers on this exciting project.”

The Kongsberg Remote Tower will be located at Concord-Padgett Regional Airport and provide secure, high reliability video presentations from a camera sensor. The KONGSBERG leading edge electro-optical sensor technology is part of the system and is a direct spin-off from the world’s most advanced military sensor technology. The 360-degree camera sensor will be used to replace the information controllers currently gather by looking out the tower cab windows. The Remote Tower system also provides added capabilities that will increase the controllers’ areas of visibility and enhance it with infrared capabilities, increasing aviation safety.

“Kongsberg Remote Towers system is operational in Europe, and we are proud to bring this ground-breaking technology to Concord-Padgett Regional Airport,” said Kjetil Reiten Myhra, Executive Vice President, Integrated Defence Systems, Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace. “KONGSBERG will be working closely with the local air traffic controllers to customize and adapt the system to support FAA Remote Tower Type Certification. We look forward to providing US airports with viable alternatives to traditional air traffic control towers and controllers with modern technology to perform their safety-critical services.”

The final plans for the mast and operations center are complete and officials anticipate construction on the Remote Tower to begin within approximately 90 days.

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