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Tulip tower: London City Airport demands radar survey

Foster + Partners’ plans for a new 305 m-high tower have hit a setback after London City Airport demanded the scheme be checked to see if it interferes with radar systems.

In response to a consultation over plans for the Tulip tower, the airport demanded that no construction work be undertaken until checks are carried out and the airport is satisfied its landing system would not compromised.

In a letter to the City of London, the airport’s technical operations co-ordinator said: “Construction shall not commence until an assessment has been carried out on the impact of this development on the radar coverage.

“During this assessment it should be noted that the gondolas present [on the new tower] will be moving and therefore may have a slightly different effect than a static element of the building.

“This needs to be authorised by the local planning authority having consulted with London City Airport and NATS En Route Limited.”

Tall buildings are known to interfere with radar coverage, which either prevent aircraft being detected or can cause false aircraft positions to be displayed to controllers.

Many modern radar systems have in-built safeguards to differentiate aircraft from buildings; however, the moveable nature of the Tulip’s gondolas could affect these controls.

‘The tower London doesn’t need’

Foster and Partners The Tulip Bird s Eye

Foster and Partners The Tulip Bird s Eye

“Architecture fans can be forgiven for thinking it’s 1 April after plans were unveiled for a tulip-shaped tower in the City of London…”

Read our Briefing on the development

The airport also added that it would need to be assured that the new tower would not affect landing systems.

It said: “No part of the proposed development or associated construction activities shall commence until LCY is satisfied that there will be no reduction of the integrity of the current instrument landing system in use at London City Airport.” 

Plans for the new tower were submitted to the City last week and include viewing galleries, sky bridges, internal glass slides and gondola pod rides across the building’s facade.

If built, the new tower would stand as the tallest in the City, overshadowing the yet-to-be-built Undershaft.

A London City Airport spokesperson said: “The aviation regulator, the CAA, has a tall buildings policy in place that, for the safety of our airspace, all new proposals in London must adhere to.

”However, as evidenced by the current London skyline, we have a strong track record in working with architects and we look forward to further dialogue with the Tulip Team.”


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