THE 67-metre-tall control tower that opened at San Francisco International Airport in October is a stylish structure that cost $120m. It is supposed to resemble a beacon of the sort used in ancient times to guide ships safely to harbour. Those in the know might be forgiven for wondering if the new control tower is less a beacon than a white elephant.
Elsewhere, airport managers are starting to abandon the panopticons that have dominated airfields for decades in favour of remote-controlled versions that promise to be cheaper and safer. They are housed in ordinary low-rise buildings, in some cases hundreds of kilometres away from the airport.
These remote control towers receive a live video feed from cameras positioned around an airfield. The images are stitched together by computer and displayed on screens to create a virtual view of the runways.
Read more: Airports switch to “virtual” control towers