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Saab Global

Saab and KCI Airport: Partners in Keeping Planes - and Passengers - Safe

2 min read

Saab’s Virtual Ramp Control System at Kansas City International Airport went operational on Feb. 28, the latest in Saab’s rapidly growing set of digital tower deployments.


Every day, around 100,000 flights take off and land worldwide. Keeping these planes and, more importantly, their passengers safe is a massive undertaking. At most airports, this job is managed, at least in part, by controllers looking out the window of standalone towers or tower cabs extending from airport buildings.

Saab has been partnering with airports around the globe to help modernize and automate their safety systems, including most recently at the Kansas City International (KCI) Airport. Like a growing number of other airports, KCI recently transitioned to a Saab Digital Tower. Digital towers (which are also sometimes referred to as remote or virtual towers) replace the need for a traditional, costly to maintain, “brick and mortar” tower by utilizing high-resolution digital cameras and displays in place of a room full of windows.

Saab pioneered the concept of digital towers over a decade ago, working with Swedish air navigation service provider LFV to create a better way to provide air traffic control services to some of Sweden’s most remote airports. In more recent years, digital towers have been embraced by airport operators and airlines in rural and urban areas alike, unlocking significant benefits, including:

  • Greater placement flexibility, leading to more optimal views
  • The ability to co-locate controllers and other functions
  • Support for digital information overlays
  • Cost savings
  • Environmental impact reductions

A big part of what makes Saab’s Digital Tower Solutions so powerful is its integration with Saab’s Aerobahn Airport Surface Management products. Aerobahn has been the most trusted ramp/apron control tool for the past 20 years. Now, combined with Saab’s Digital Tower Solutions, Saab offers an even more comprehensive and cost-effective solution for managing airport ramp/apron operations.

The KCI Airport project is a perfect example of this integrated approach to ramp control. There, Saab provides a complete turn-key solution with all the hardware, software, and services needed to provide virtual ramp control. This cutting-edge solution complements Kansas City’s new multi-billion-dollar airport terminal and includes the following:

  • Saab’s Aerobahn Surface Manager
  • Two 360-degree, environmentally protected camera housings
  • A voice communication control system
  • A video and audio recording system
  • An ADS-B surveillance system
  • Ramp controller staffing via Saab’s partner, Robinson Aviation