Published on : Friday, June 20, 2014
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today joined local officials in breaking ground for a new, $26 million air traffic control tower at Tucson International Airport.
At about 250 feet tall, the new tower will be more than double the height of the current tower, which is 55 years old. It will provide air traffic controllers with better airfield views and make it easier for them to determine the positions of aircraft on the ground and in the skies around the airport.
“This project is a great example of the FAA’s commitment to continually reinvesting in our nation’s transportation infrastructure,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Improving our facilities and making them as environmentally friendly as possible helps maintain a cutting-edge transportation system and makes the most efficient use of taxpayer dollars.”
“The new tower’s more central location will give controllers improved views of the entire airport surface as well as the approach paths to all of the runways,” said FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta. “It will make a safe airport even safer while providing our hard-working controllers with greatly improved working conditions.”
The new tower will be located on the south side of the airfield, south of the existing tower. It will sit on top of a 13,000 square-foot base building that will house computer equipment, administrative offices and a backup power system that is designed to automatically activate in case of a commercial power outage.
Numerous environmental features will minimize the facility’s energy and water uses.
A 1,600-panel solar farm adjacent to the base building is expected to generate all of the facility’s electrical needs for several hours a day on sunny days. At other times, the power it produces will supplement the facility’s commercial power supply.
Other environmental benefits include native desert plants that don’t need watering, motion detectors for the low-energy, indoor lights, a light-colored roof that will reflect the sun’s heat away from the building, and triple-pane windows that will reduce the amount of energy needed to keep the controller work area cool.
The total project cost, including computer equipment, electronics, fire suppression systems, and heating and air conditioning, will be about $42 million. The FAA expects to start using the new facility in 2017.
Tucson had approximately 140,000 aircraft operations in 2013. It is served by six airlines and is home to the largest F16 Air National Guard Base in the U.S.