London’s Tulip tower ‘could confuse air traffic control systems’

Trouble at the Tulip: Rotating gondolas planned for new London tower ‘could confuse air traffic control systems’

  •  Officials say the rotating gondola could interfere with the airport’s radar system
  • Architects Foster+Partners put in plans for the 1,000ft tower earlier this month
  • Construction on the tower ‘must not go ahead’ until assessment is carried out 
  • However, City of London want to promote local development and ‘look forward to further dialogue with The Tulip team’

London City Airport has insisted that plans for construction on the capital’s new Tulip tower should be halted because it could confuse air traffic controllers.

Technical experts have raised concerns that the rotating gondolas which will carry visitors around the top in a loop will interfere with their radar systems.

They say construction on the 1,000ft (305m) skyscraper must not go ahead until a full assessment has been carried out on the impact of the radar coverage.

Officials told the authority considering planning permission that the gondola rides will confuse air traffic controllers at the airport six miles to the east.

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London City Airport have insisted that plans to build the tulip tower should be halted because it could confuse air traffic controllers. Technical experts have raised concerns over the rotating gondolas that they say will interfere with their radar systems

London City Airport have insisted that plans to build the tulip tower should be halted because it could confuse air traffic controllers. Technical experts have raised concerns over the rotating gondolas that they say will interfere with their radar systems

Architects Foster+Partners put forward the plans in early November.

The 12-storey egg shaped bubble on top of a concrete stem will have rotating glass spheres which would move visitors around the tower’s tip. 

It is more than twice the height of the London Eye, the next-tallest moving visitor attraction in the capital. 

Radar coverage can be impacted significantly by tall buildings, as they may prevent aircraft from being detected.

The building could also prompt the displaying of false aircraft positions to controllers.

Modern radar systems have built-in safeguards to differentiate aircraft from buildings but London City Airport says that the moveable nature of the Tulip could confuse these systems.

A London City Airport spokesperson told Mail Online: ‘The aviation regulator, the CAA, has a tall buildings policy in place that, for the safety of the London airspace, all new development proposals in London must adhere to.’

London City said National Air Traffic Control noted ‘the gondolas will be moving and therefore may have a slightly different effect than a static element of the building’.

 They say construction on the 1,000ft (305-metre) skyscraper must not go ahead until a full assessment has been carried out of the impact on the radar coverage. Officials told the authority considering planning permission

 They say construction on the 1,000ft (305-metre) skyscraper must not go ahead until a full assessment has been carried out of the impact on the radar coverage. Officials told the authority considering planning permission

The 12-storey glass bubble erected on top of a concrete stem will be filled with bars, restaurants, a viewing gallery and 'a classroom in the sky'. It is more than twice the height of the London Eye, the next-tallest moving visitor attraction in the capital

The 12-storey glass bubble erected on top of a concrete stem will be filled with bars, restaurants, a viewing gallery and ‘a classroom in the sky’. It is more than twice the height of the London Eye, the next-tallest moving visitor attraction in the capital

Foster+Partners say that the skyscraper will be filled with bars, restaurants, a viewing gallery and a ‘classroom in the sky’.  

The firm are also responsible for the design of the Gherkin skyscraper nearby, as well as a £1.3 billionn ($1.7bn) European Headquarters for Bloomberg.

The proposed plan has already attracted some opposition from local residents. 

The Tulip by numbers

Building name: The Tulip

Architects: Foster + Partners

Location: Adjacent to 20 Bury Street

Planning application: November 2018

Estimated construction: 2020 to 2025

Site Area: 31,100 sq ft (92,889m²)

Height: 1,000ft (305.3m) 

Diameter of widest floor: 113ft (34.5m)

One resident of Petticoat Tower said: ‘I don’t understand why we need this phallic-shaped attraction, with little aesthetic merit. 

‘As a resident, I object to this construction project.

‘It will create noise and turn the neighbourhood into a construction site for years to come, affecting property prices and residents’ daily comfort.’

Another said it ‘would fit better into Dubai than London’. 

Foster and Partners told Mail Online: ‘As part of the planning process, interested parties have the opportunity to respond to the proposals and raise any questions or seek clarification.

‘We look forward to working collaboratively with London City Airport, and other stakeholders, to work through planning matters during the current consultation period.’

London City said National Air Traffic Control noted 'the gondolas will be moving and therefore may have a slightly different effect than a static element of the building'.

London City said National Air Traffic Control noted ‘the gondolas will be moving and therefore may have a slightly different effect than a static element of the building’.

According to technical experts the radar will interfere with radar systems at the airport six miles to the east, officials told the authority considering whether to grant planning permission. It is more than twice the height of the London Eye, the next-tallest moving visitor attraction in the capital

According to technical experts the radar will interfere with radar systems at the airport six miles to the east, officials told the authority considering whether to grant planning permission. It is more than twice the height of the London Eye, the next-tallest moving visitor attraction in the capital


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