Remote Tower Update
It’s hard to believe that roughly 18 months ago, the Northern Colorado Airport installed the first of the camera masts, which would become the eyes for Colorado’s Remote Tower project. Tucked away in a remodeled modular building sits a plethora of technology, bringing what was once an extension to the FNL Terminal and later the headquarters for a DEN shuttle service, a state-of-the-art Air Traffic Control Facility. When completed and certified, the FNL Remote Tower will be a blueprint for creating a cost-effective Air Traffic Control Services to busy airports across the country, saving millions of dollars in infrastructure expenses.
To provide a more seamless transition, it is important to note a few changes to the airport that won’t immediately be available on charts. During the testing phases, it’s vitally important to check NOTAMs. Until the Remote Tower is certified, FNL will operate as a Towered Class E airport by NOTAM, which means any changes in ATC status will be noted there. Fortunately, there will be little if any operational differences between FNL’s Towered Class E airspace and an airport under typical Class D airspace and once the testing phases begin, the tower is expected to remain open. There are some important pieces of information that you’ll want to be aware of, however.
Hours of Operation: 0800 – 1800
Tower: 118.400 (Will revert to CTAF when the tower is not in operation)
UNICOM: 122.950 (jetCenter FBO)
** Current CTAF, 122.700 will be eliminated
It is expected that the hours of operation will be between 0800 – 1800, every day, starting March 16, 2020. During the initial Testing Phase (Phase 1), ATC will operate out of the Mobile Air Traffic Control Tower (MATCT) located near the Remote Terminal and North of the main ramp while system testing is performed in the Remote Tower. During Phase 2 (estimated to begin in early 2021), the operations will swap, and the Remote Tower will control traffic while the Mobile tower remains online as a monitor. Both the Remote Tower and the Mobile Tower are designed to interoperate if one needs to take primary control over the other, so there should never be a lapse in ATC coverage after the March 16th start date.
On October 17th, 2019, Movement area markings were painted along Taxiways Charlie, Bravo and Alpha 1 along the main 33/15 runway and east of runway 24. Taxiway Delta, however, will not require Ground clearance until reaching Alpha 1, just before the run-up area. Ground Control would like to hear from pilots as you are about to move when in sight of the mobile tower to avoid taxiway conflicts.
An area of confusion could be how Runway 6/24 is handled. When taxing on taxiway Alpha, a clearance will be required to cross runway 6. However, runway 6/24 will primarily be considered a taxiway serving the east hangar community and flight school.
The controlled airspace will include a 4-mile radius around the airport with a Class E surface area. When approaching the airport, Air Traffic Control is requesting a first call at a distance of 8 miles in order to sequence the varying aircraft types properly. Due to the lack of Radar access during Phase 1 testing, the Mobile Tower will not be able to see area traffic until closer to the controlled airspace requiring vigilant see and avoid techniques as we do today. To standardize and create better traffic flow, VFR reporting points will be established. These reporting points will most likely include the Budweiser facility North along I-25, the Town of Severance on the Northeast side. The South reporting point will be roughly halfway between Loveland and Berthoud, where highway 287 makes the bend South. While in Phase 1, the controllers will not have radar access, so accurate position reports including distance from the airport will significantly assist their ability to separate traffic. These are all subject to change as ATC learns and adjusts to area traffic flows.
For IFR traffic, Clearance Delivery will be provided with ground control as is typical at Class D airports, and local air traffic control will be responsible for IFR separation. Through a letter of agreement with TRACON, however, the ILS 33 will no longer be available when southerly (favoring runway 15) winds are present unless traffic permits. This will eliminate the head-on arrival and departures that we often see with ILS practice approaches and normal airport operations.
If you have any questions, please email them to info@FNLPilots.org.
Additional information regarding the Remote Tower Project can be found at https://www.flynoco.com/about/remote-tower/, including the current testing schedules.