Selma Airport to become site of remote aviation control tower

Craig Field will be the nation’s first to deploy the technology

Craig Field in Selma will become the nation’s first remote tower air traffic control center, as well as a unique training academy.

Advanced ATC Inc., of Georgia, is investing $4.7 million to set up the remote tower air traffic control center at the former U.S. Air Force base in Dallas County. The private company trains air traffic controllers.

Remote tower technologies allow air traffic controllers to perform all of the typical functions in a control tower from a different location through the use of cameras, real-time video and other advances. However, no remote tower centers currently are in operation in the U.S., though the technology is in use in Europe.

The Selma center will be equipped to support aviation expansion and air traffic control services for up to 40 airports across the nation.

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“The outlook for small airports to be able to afford ATC service without the requirement to build a $5 – $10 million control tower is now available with the advancement of camera and satellite technologies changing almost daily,” said Dan Cunningham, chief operating officer at Advanced ATC.

The plans for the center include Advance ATC hiring 28 people for Craig Field within the first year, with a $3.1 million annual payroll. The company expects to employ 119 people within five years.

Advanced ATC is teaming with Indra Corp., of Spain, on the Craig Field project. Indra Corp. is a manufacturer of aviation navigation systems and will provide staffing, software and logistics support for all remote tower systems deployed in North America.

Advanced ATC also plans to establish an international training academy at Craig Field — the first of its kind in the world. The academy will provide operational training and certifications for the remote tower air traffic controllers and is expected to train between 25 and 50 students per year.

“Advanced ATC’s virtual tower center project at Craig Field is set to blaze a new trail for the U.S. aviation industry by creating a practical air traffic control solution for many smaller airports in the nation,” said Brenda Tuck, rural development manager for the Alabama Department of Commerce.

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