COLUMBUS, OH — In almost every way, the new air traffic control tower at Port Columbus International Airport stands twice as tall as the tower it replaces — twice as height, with more work space, improved visibility, and the latest in communications, computer and radar consoles.
The Columbus Regional Airport Authority and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) dedicated the 224-foot structure today, following a successful commissioning on the weekend of April 24-25.
“This tower represents the vision of an all-star team of controllers, engineers, technicians and architects,” said Cecelia Hunziker, FAA Great Lakes Regional Administrator. The FAA has built a state-of-the-art facility at Port Columbus that will stand as a model for the future.”
“We are extremely pleased to be the home of such an outstanding facility,” said Kathleen Ransier, Board Chair, Columbus Regional Airport Authority. “This tower will allow for planned growth at Port Columbus, including a future second passenger terminal.”
The new tower features a cab almost twice the size (603 square feet vs. 347 square feet) of the old tower; is more than twice the height (224’ to rooftop antennae, vs. 105’); and is on a new site affording a better view of all runways and ground traffic.
Innovative design features include only three structural cab columns, allowing a 120- degree span of clear vision between columns; 30 degree-angled cab glass, providing better glare characteristics both day and night; and, maintenance of cab equipment behind and under consoles, minimizing disturbance of air traffic operations.
Construction started on the new tower in 2001. Final costs, including equipment, are estimated at nearly $23 million.
At 11:50 p.m., Saturday, April 24, the old Port Columbus tower received its last transmission from an arriving Learjet. At midnight, the new tower handled its first transmission, the same aircraft on takeoff.
Air traffic controllers working in the cab handle traffic within a five-mile radius of the airport. Controllers working in the Terminal Radar Approach Control facility (TRACON), handle flights within a 50-mile radius of Port Columbus.
The new TRACON is one of the first in the nation to feature the new Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS), a joint program of the FAA and Department of Defense. STARS is a key component in the modernization of the nation’s airspace system, allowing controllers to take data from up to 16 different radar systems to create a complete and accurate picture of airplanes and weather in the terminal area.
Forty-seven controllers, six supervisors and ten management staff members work in the new tower and TRACON. Key to maintaining the equipment are 23 airways facilities specialists who oversee the electronics and navigational aids in the tower and on the airfield.