"Ground Breaking for New Las Vegas Air Traffic Control Facility "
J. Randolph Babbitt, Las Vegas, NV
May 31, 2011

McCarran International Airport

Good morning, Randy (Walker) and thank you for that kind introduction. It’s great to be here today in Las Vegas. I want to extend a special thanks to Senator Reid, and to the distinguished representatives from Clark County who are here today.

This is an important day for Las Vegas, but it is also important to our entire nation.

Investments in airports and air traffic control are vital to the health of our aviation system. The aviation system keeps our economy moving – literally. Investments in aviation infrastructure mean more efficient travel, and more jobs for American workers.

So it’s a real pleasure to join you today as we break ground for a new air traffic control tower and radar approach control here in Las Vegas.

McCarranInternational Airport is central to the long history of aviation in Clark County and the state of Nevada. It is the second airport to bear the name of Nevada's first native-born United States senator – Patrick McCarran – and today it serves over 40 million passengers a year. That’s nearly sixty percent of all visitors to Las Vegas.

Clearly, McCarran International has come a very long way from its beginnings back in 1942. In fact, McCarran International is now the country’s eighth busiest airport, handling over 505,000 flights in 2010. The FAA is forecasting more than 700,000 annual flights at McCarran by 2020, and we are pleased to have provided Airport Improvement Program funding in support of the new Terminal 3. With so much growth, it is certainly the right time for construction of this new facility.

Safety is the FAA’s primary mission and top priority. So the development of this facility is also an important part of our constant effort to enhance the safety and efficiency of our national air space. One of the biggest benefits to safety is that the new, taller tower – which will rise 352 feet above the ground – will give air traffic controllers much better visibility of airport operations.

The new air traffic control tower will be the most visible part of the construction, but we are breaking ground today for more than a tower. This project will also include a much-needed 52,800 square-foot base building to house the Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON). This facility will also include space for air traffic control training simulators, administrative offices, and equipment.

So this entire facility will enhance the ability of our air traffic controller workforce to maintain the highest levels of safety on the airport’s surface, and in the skies above it.

We are very pleased to contribute to the enhanced safety and efficiency of Las Vegas McCarran International Airport. I thank you for coming out today – this is a great day for aviation.

I now have the privilege of introducing a Senator who has been a champion of aviation safety in the United States Senate for over twenty years.

Senator Harry Reid has been a steadfast supporter of the FAA, our programs, workforce, and the mission that we work to achieve day-in and day-out – providing the safest and most efficient aviation system in the world.

Senator, thank you for being with us today to break ground on the new control tower, and I look forward to your comments.

Ladies and Gentleman, please join me in welcoming Senator Harry Reid.