The World’s First Airport With Completely Remote ATC Just Opened

Christmas came right on time for the operators of a new airport in Sweden. Scandinavian Mountains Airport, with IATA code SCR, received its first flight last week, on the 22nd December. This week, it has received its first international flight, as SAS has landed at SCR connecting the ski region with Copenhagen and London for the rest of the winter season.

remote tower
The world’s first 100% remote ATC tower is up and running. Photo: Saab Digital Air Traffic Solutions

A unique airport experience

There’s always something special about the juxtaposition of old against new, of modern against traditional… and the new Scandinavian Mountains Airport delivers this in spades. Nestled in the timeless natural landscape of the Scandinavian mountains, the wooden façade is more akin to a cozy cabin than a cutting edge airport. But appearances can be deceptive.

SCR airport
A facade like a log cabin. Photo; SCR Airport
The stunning scenery around the airport. Photo: SCR Airport

Inside the airport, the designers have applied some of the latest and most groundbreaking technology to make passing through the airport a breeze. These include the use of EDSCB C3 CT 3D X-ray scanners, so passengers no longer have the remove their liquids, and advanced security scanners to prevent having to pass through a metal detector.

Not only that, but this is the first airport in the world to be built without an Air Traffic Control tower. Instead, the air traffic management is conducted from Sundsvall, some 350km (220 miles) off to the east. The remote tower monitors the airport with 17 wide-angle cameras, giving the operators in Sundsvall precision control.

The camera tower on site is provided by Saab Digital Air Traffic Solutions. CEO of the company, Per Ahl, commented on the advantages of using this technology in a press release, saying,

“One of the advantages of remote air traffic control is operational flexibility, which makes it easier for us to manage varying volumes of traffic over the seasons. Remote air traffic control is also safe and cost-effective. We are now providing a comprehensive concept to the first airport in the world with fully digital air traffic control.”

The ‘tower’ at the airport with nothing but cameras. Photo: Saab Digital Air Traffic Solutions

Despite all this high tech wizardry built into the airport, some things are still very much in-keeping with tradition. Some of the nearby resorts are most easily accessed not with a bus or car transfer, but instead with a transfer via dog sled or snowmobile!

Airport transfer by dogsled? Photo: SCR Airport
Ski doo transfer
Or perhaps a snowmobile is more your style? Photo: SCR Airport

First there was BRA

The first revenue flight to land at Scandinavian Mountains Airport was a Braathens Regional Airlines (BRA) service from Malmo. The flight was operated by BRA’s largest aircraft, a quad jet Avro RJ100, and all 112 seats on board were sold out.

BRA was first to land at Scandinavian Mountains Airport (SCR). Photo: SCR Airport

During that first day of opening, SCR went on to welcome another two aircraft from BRA; one arriving from Angelholm and another from Stockholm Bromma. BRA will be taking care of all the airport’s domestic connections going forward, adding Gothenburg and Växjö to the destinations served.

BRA is slated to phase out the ARJ100 in early 2020 and will operate routes to SCR using its more modern ATR-72.

Then there was SAS

SAS landed at the airport yesterday, becoming the first international service to operate from SCR. The first flight was from Copenhagen, flight SK2271, flown by an Airbus A320neo registered SE-ROS. Simple Flying spoke to Brett Weihart, Airport Manager at SCR, who told us,

“SAS is a very important partner for us. They are a strong brand name associated with Scandinavia. With the Heathrow and Copenhagen services added to the airport, both local, as well as connecting traffic, comes into play, creating more accessibility to our region.”

SAS first landing
SAS landed for the first time yesterday. Photo: SCR Airport

SAS will also operate flights from Aalborg in Denmark and from London Heathrow. In fact, the flights from London Heathrow should also have launched yesterday. However, as with most new initiatives, there were some hiccups with the launch. A notification on the airport’s website says that,

“Due to delayed permit for border police operations, SAS flights from London are temporarily unable to land or take off from Scandinavian Mountains Airport (SCR). The flights are diverted to Oslo Gardemoen (OSL).

“The route between Oslo Gardermoen and Scandinavian Mountains Airport will be by bus transfer. We expect the Swedish government to make the decision in the case on January 15, 2020 and that the flight from London on January 18, 2020 can land at the Scandinavian Mountains Airport. SAS flights from Copenhagen and Aalborg are not affected and are served according to timetable. We regret this and the hassle it entails for you as a passenger.”

The replacement bus service looks to be a grueling three hours, significantly longer than the flight itself. Thankfully this is only a temporary solution, and hopefully, the flights will get started from the 18th of January. If you’re booked before that and are facing the bus trip, at least you should get to enjoy some stunning scenery!