By James T. McKenna | May 8, 2017
NATS is joining Nav Canada as a major owner in a Canadian firm that specializes in digital camera technology for remote control tower operations and optimization of surface movements on airports.
The U.K.-based air traffic management company billed its investment in Searidge Technologies by its NATS Services commercial arm, announced May 5, as reflecting the growing demand for digital tower solutions from airports around the world. NATS said the deal would make it “a joint and equal owner alongside Nav Canada.” The Canadian air navigation service provider (ANSP) had held a 70% stake in Ottawa-based Searidge through an investment dating to 2010.
"Digital tower technology has the potential to completely transform the delivery of air navigation services at airports," NATS CEO Martin Rolfe said. Searidge's "highly innovative approach and proven technology, combined with the wealth of operational experience and resource that both we and Nav Canada can provide means we can offer airports around the world something that is uniquely compelling.”
“Over the last six years, Searidge has done a great job of growing the business and evolving its technology into a market-leading contender in the remote tower space,” Nav Canada President and CEO Neil Wilson said. “Building on our existing partnership with NATS, this new venture will allow us to take Searidge to the next level of growth and success.”
Digital tower technology replaces a physical control tower with high-definition, day/night visible, thermal and pan-tilt-zoom cameras that provide real-time information to air traffic controllers at distant facilities with the view of an airfield recreated in what Searidge said is a seamless panoramic image. The image can be augmented and enhanced with data from radar and flight information on individual aircraft to improve a controller’s situational awareness and provide what Searidge said are more cost-effective safety and operational benefits.
CEO Moodie Cheikh of Searidge (the partners said will continue to operate as an independent company) said, "We strongly believe ownership by two tier one ANSPs will allow Searidge to better service our customers, expand our reach into key markets and help drive innovation in an operational environment.”
Searidge said it now operates in more than 30 sites in 16 countries.