"New Infrastructure Comes to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton"
Michael Huerta, Avoca, Pennsylvania
September 28, 2012

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport Tower Dedication

Thank you, Carmine (Gallo).  It is a pleasure to be here today, and to be part of this dedication.

Across the country, we are maintaining and enhancing our towers, runways, and terminals in order to keep our aviation system the safest and most efficient anywhere in the world.  And, our future depends on a strong airport infrastructure.   This new tower is a testament to the administration’s investment in our aviation system.  And, developments in the next generation of air traffic technology will also make air travel even safer and more efficient.

This is especially important because of what aviation represents and its major impact on the American economy.  As Secretary LaHood said, it provides 10 million jobs, and contributes more than a trillion dollars annually to the American economy.  Right here in Pennsylvania, this airport generates millions of dollars for the local economy. 

The entire airport and this new air traffic facility are part of the region’s economic engine.  The tower is twice as tall as the old tower.  As the Secretary noted, this gives controllers better lines of sight for the whole airport, and this enhances safety. 

It also has the best communications technology.  The tower is equipped with the latest airport surveillance radar system that we call ASR-11.  This system interfaces with both analog and digital automation systems, providing seamless coverage between older and newer technologies.  It also provides multi-faceted weather capability – important on days like today – and is an asset to both pilots and controllers. 

The tower is also equipped with effective technology for ground-to-ground and air-to-ground communications between controllers and aircraft, further enhancing safety. 

With the new technology in this tower, controllers only have to scan flight plan data once.  That data and information is seamlessly transferred between the tower cab and the TRACON guiding traffic into the region.  This improves controller efficiency. 

And, last, the tower will have better voice recording for controllers, which gives greater clarity.  This is especially useful when reviewing operations taking place every day. 

So, not only does this tower have effective communication capabilities, it also has the best technology inside, making it a great workplace. 

I also want to thank the controllers and their union, NATCA, for their collaboration on this project.  This tower is going to allow our dedicated air traffic controller workforce to be able to maintain the highest levels of safety on the airport’s surface and in the skies over this region. 

Northeastern Pennsylvania will be better served by this new tower.  It will provide more seamless operations at a high level of safety.  Investments such as this are the key to moving our aviation system forward. 

It is a great day for Wilkes-Barre International Airport.  Thank you, again, for inviting me here today.