MIAMI – The FAA’s Air Traffic Services organization has approved the continued operations of the remote air traffic control tower at Leesburg Executive Airport (JYO) in Virginia, US.

The launch of Saab’s remote tower system at JYO, which became the first under the FAA’s Remote Tower Pilot Program, began in 2014 as a public-private partnership between Saab, a company that designs, manufactures, and maintains systems in aeronautics, weapons, and more, Virginia SATSLab, and the town of Leesburg.

According to Saab officials, an initial operational phase followed more than five years of FAA formal evaluations and safety panels, during which controllers safely oversaw more than 75,000 operations at Leesburg.

Fixed High-Definition (HD) cameras and controller screens, movable optical and infrared cameras, microphones, and a signal light gun are all part of the remote tower at Leesburg. Controllers have a full set of capabilities, including live video, to run the airport in the same way they would in any other ATC tower, according to Saab officials.

While controllers will be based somewhere other than the airport in the future, JYO’s control room is currently housed in an airport conference room, according to officials.

The remote tower at KJOY, Virginia, US. Photo: Saab

Comments from Saab

The FAA’s authorization to continue operations brings JYO “one step closer to permanent ATC services while avoiding the ever-increasing expense of constructing and maintaining a conventional, multi-story ATC tower,” company officials said.

“Today’s announcement brings us even closer to an FAA-certified, lower-cost alternative for U.S. general aviation airports needing to replace their aging towers or for busy airports similar to Leesburg seeking to add ATC services,” said Erik Smith, president and CEO of Saab.

According to, JYO, Virginia’s second busiest general aviation airfield, had no ATC services prior to the installation of the remote tower.

Featured image: The control room for KJOY. Phoyo: Saab