Leesburg Airport’s Remote Tower Gets Its Own Space

An agreement between the town and Loudoun County has been reached to house the municipal airport’s remote tower.

The Town Council approved a lease agreement at its meeting earlier this week. The Board of Supervisors recently approved the lease of unoccupied office space, and a waiver of the rent, for 1,635 square feet at 748-750 Miller Drive.

The Leesburg Airport remote tower came about through a partnership with the town, Saab Sensis Corporation, the Virginia SATS Lab, and the Federal Aviation Administration Office of NextGen. The first airport in the nation to use the technology, the remote tower system places cameras and other equipment all around the airport, but rather than construct an actual tower, air traffic controllers can work in any space, even off airport property. Currently, the remote tower is housed in a Leesburg Airport conference room.

According to a staff report, the FAA has committed to provide funding to build out the remote tower space. The office space to be provided by the county meets the FAA requirements for housing the remote tower.

The remote tower is funded for a fixed period through the FAA Office of NextGen for the sole purpose of certifying the system for adoption in the U.S. Upon receiving certification of the system, the town is seeking acceptance to the FAA Contract Tower Program to fund on-going air traffic controller services.

The staff report credits the partnership between the town and county in jointly funding efforts for a lobbyist as critical in receiving support from the commonwealth, the FAA and the U.S. Congress, where recent legislation included funding to continue a remote tower pilot program.

The county estimates the in-kind value of the rental space at $19,630 per year or a total of $392,600 over the duration of the 20-year lease, excluding inflation and escalators. The lease may be terminated in the event the FAA discontinues funding support for the remote tower program.

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