The Loveland-Fort Collins Airport (now known as the Northern Colorado Regional Airport) landed a deal that will make it the very first airport to use new ‘remote control tower’ technology.  We beat out four other locations in Colorado!  Why? What IS this new thing?

Air Traffic
Scott Barbour, Getty Images

There’s a new kind of control tower coming down the runway for the nation, and Loveland will be on the forefront of the technology!  The FAA has been working on new air safety technology- it’s their NextGen’ project, and this remote tower initiative is part of it.

Basically, it’s a new radar array at airports- collecting all sorts of information- about planes in the air, planes on the ground, vehicles near the airport, even animals that are close-by.  The information gathered is communicated to FAA flight controllers at a central location- away from the airport- hence, ‘remote.’

This will be cheaper than building a traditional tower and will let them use our airport as a ‘test field’ for the new technology. The Northern Colorado Regional Airport was up against Durango, Aspen, Montrose and the Greeley-Weld airports.

What put the Loveland-Fort Collins airport on top is a couple of things: One, we are close to a couple of those ‘remote’ Air Route Traffic Control Centers- in Longmont and Denver. Secondly, our airport handles a lot of different kinds of aviation: General aviation, commercial air service, corporate aviation, aircraft used in wildland firefighting and helicopter instruction.

From John Licon- the Airport Director:

“Our airport is one of the most diverse airports, if not the most, in the state in terms of what kinds of aircraft we accommodate,” Licon said. “We have a very wide variety of users. If they’re going to test a new system and see how it works in a very broad set of circumstances, this is the place to do it.”

This technology could be a boom for the local economy-

From Loveland Mayor Cecil Gutierrez:

First, it greatly enhances aviation safety at the airport,” he said. “With that, opportunities will open up for commercial air service and economic development both on and off the airport. This is a major step forward for our regional airport and its newly created airport authority board

The cost of the new Remote Tower Project is $5.9 million.  That money comes from taxes collected from aviation fuel.   They expect to start installing the new equipment by spring of 2016; they’ll start testing it out sometime after that.

Who knows? This could mean big-time air travel out of little ol’ Loveland! Who’s ready?

More From K99