Colorado Airport Dealt Huge Setback When It Comes to Being Relevant
It was in 2019, that Northern Colorado was getting excited (again) about Allegiant Air coming back to town. That plan never got off the ground, and it seems further and further away now.
Allegiant Air changed their minds about bringing flights in and out of the Northern Colorado Regional Airport when they found that the NoCo airport wouldn't have an actual FAA control tower.
Now, even the "high-tech" virtual tower plan for the NoCo Airport is parked on the tarmac.
The plane above is the kind of plane that flies in and out of the Northern Colorado Regional Airport on a regular basis. Larger, commercial planes haven't flown out of that airport for many years, mostly due to the tower problem.
HOW DOES THE LOVELAND-FORT COLLINS AIRPORT HANDLE AIR TRAFFIC?
The airport uses a bunch of cameras that watch the ground traffic and air traffic and are monitored. That's fine enough for the traffic the NoCo Airport currently handles, but not good enough to really attract commercial carriers.
Since 2015, the Northern Colorado Regional Airport has been working with partners to develop and implement a remote "virtual air traffic control tower." The Fort Collins-Loveland airport was chosen over four other contenders to get the remote tower.
The overall goal of the Colorado Remote Tower Project has been:
This test project is the first to combine visual/camera input and radar/track-based input, allowing for control of air traffic at airports from a remote location.
The result of this project will enhance safety and efficiency at airports, while also reducing the construction and operating costs of a traditional air traffic control tower.
IT ALL CAME VERY CLOSE TO GETTING OFF THE GROUND... BUT
In 2018, the FAA chose a firm out of Canada to develop the technology. In 2020, the Northern Colorado Regional Airport started getting ready for the "remote tower" by putting up a couple of buildings for the eventual testing.
Now, with complications from dealing with the pandemic, and FAA standard changes, the Canadian technology firm has decided to pull out of the project, entirely.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR THE FORT COLLINS-LOVELAND AIRPORT?
Colorado Department of Transportation reports that there is still strong interest in the remote virtual tower, so they, along with the FAA and the airport will stick with that plan.
Those cheap flights out of Loveland to go gamble in Las Vegas seem like a longshot bet, at least for the next few years.
[Source Press Release]
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