Earthquake Disasters Show Effectiveness In Mobile ATC Towers <


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Earthquake Disasters Show Effectiveness In Mobile ATC Towers

By Mike Mitchell

March 7, 2010 - There has been a lot of publicity since the earthquake in Haiti when the ATC became unserviceable at Port-au-Prince airport.  The main tower had been badly damaged, restoring ATC had to be a priority to enable the huge influx of humanitarian aid that needed to be flown into the country urgently.  

The Host Systems team worked flat out to have a fully integrated mobile ATC tower ready to go out to Haiti to help ease their ATC difficulties.  The unit was ready on 19 January, 7 days after the earthquake and ready for dispatch the same day.  The system can easily handle 200 flights a day and with 360 degree vision for all Air Traffic Controllers at an elevated height of 7m giving excellent air and ground control.

Michael Brunton, Managing Director of Host Sytems commented: “The US military did a good job to get the airport operational with a temporary caravan supplied by the FAA which had never been out of the United States.  They lost precious time when they had to wait for a Russian Antonov plane to collect and transport their unit to Port au Prince and in their deployment time.   Their temporary system arrived on 23 January and took a while to be made fully operational.” 

“The Host Systems tower is transportable by Il-76 or C-130 and we could have had our tower in Haiti on 20th January, and operational within an hour of arrival using our highly experienced team who would travel with the tower” said Michael Brunton, MD of Host Systems.   

“I have been in disaster situations where ATC has been destroyed and have seen for myself that the delay in receiving aid costs lives. It is vital to the humanitarian effort to have effective ATC in place to enable urgent deliveries by air and this is why we developed the Host Systems Mobile ATC Tower; it is air transportable, rapidly deployed, elevates to an operator height of 7m and can be a long term solution rather than a quick fix. Our systems are specially designed for this application and not a converted vehicle.” 

Each disaster highlights different logistical problems but in Port Au Prince it is the ATC – being only a small airport it is not capable of handling the large amount of aid planes especially on the ground, the temporary unit does not elevate meaning the control of aircraft, vehicles and people is made even more difficult, especially in a confined area. 

Michael went on to say: “We notified our government and aid agencies that we have a tower still available for Haiti or for Chile and are hoping that the authorities may consider using one of our towers in the re-building program for Haiti.  We propose that our mobile tower is a safer long term option than a conventionally built tower in an earthquake region.   

The system is very stable and it can be lowered to the ground in 3 minutes via a simple remote control unit, and stands on its own tiers and stabilizers.  The cabin structure is reinforced, and is fitted with blast proof glass and would provide a safer working environment for air traffic controllers than a built structure if further earth tremors hit the area.” 

Host Systems ATC towers have been proven in very difficult working environments, and a system is currently operating ATC at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan which is now the 5th busiest UK operated airport. The system is handling 400+ movements a day. 

Michael Brunton added: “Our systems may not be as good looking as most ATC towers but they do exactly the same job, with a 20 year lifespan minimum can be considered a permanent solution.” 

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