"Memphis Tower and TRACON Dedication"
J. Randolph Babbitt, Memphis International Airport
October 20, 2011

Memphis Tower and TRACON Dedication

Thank you, Arnold (Perl). And thanks to all for coming here this morning. It’s a great pleasure to dedicate this new tower and radar facility here in Memphis.

This tower embodies the advancements we are making in aviation safety and modernization nationwide.

Our future depends on keeping our airport infrastructure healthy. Investments in the next generation of air traffic technology make air travel even safer and more efficient.

These projects put Americans to work and boost the economy, making our nation's infrastructure even more competitive. And in a global economy that's important.

The growth of Memphis International Airport is an inspiration. Memphis started as a grass field in 1920s. That is when two pioneers of Memphis aviation, Vernon and Phoebe Omlie, were barnstorming across the Midwest. Vernon was a flight instructor during World War I and later started a commercial aviation company here. Phoebe was a champion air racer and mechanic. The two taught hundreds to fly, and this tower is dedicated to them.  

Over the years Memphis has grown, adding runways and taxiways. The airport now has four runways, and they are busy day and night. With the growth of Federal Express, this airport has become the busiest cargo airport in the United States.

The pace of commerce today has changed. Our aviation system – our towers, radar facilities and runways – are a vital part of our economy. Customers order online today and expect the product to arrive the next day via air freight. We need an aviation system that’s up to the task of supporting today’s marketplace.

This new air traffic control tower and radar facility will do just that. It will give controllers better lines of sight and enable them to continue to provide the safest, most efficient service to both cargo and passenger flights.

At the FAA, we are continually improving our national aviation system, and Memphis is a testing site for our newest innovations. We are testing a NextGen technology here that has the potential to alleviate logjams on taxiways and reduce the amount of fuel burned while waiting to take off.  We are developing optimal gate push-off schedules for all flights. We aim to save time and money for everyone.

Memphisalso has the latest in airport safety technology. This airport is one of 35 in the nation that now has a ground radar safety system. The system provides a very clear computerized picture of aircraft and vehicle movements on the airport.  It can see through rain, fog and darkness to give tower controllers a better picture of everything that’s going on. And this improves the way they move aircraft around the airport. It’s another example of how we are constantly working towards the next level of safety in what is already the safest system in the world.

Improvements like these are needed around the country. If Congress passes President Obama’s American Jobs Act, we’ll be able to get going on equally important transportation projects all across the nation.

The American Jobs Act will generate new construction jobs and it will have a positive ripple effect on the economy.  It’s very simple. What’s good for aviation is good for America.

If we delay infrastructure investments today, the long term cost to our nation – to our passengers and our environment – will far exceed the cost of going forward with the technology now.

So I would like to thank you for coming out today to see us. This new facility is very good news for Memphis and it’s very good news for aviation.

I’d now like to turn it back over to Arnold