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NEWS Last modified on June 2, 2016

US Transportation Secretary breaks ground for new ATC tower at Charlotte Douglas

US Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx, broke ground today for a new 370-foot-tall air traffic control tower and radar approach control complex at Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT).

The new tower will enable air traffic controllers to continue to provide the safest, most efficient service to flights at the nation’s fifth busiest tower.

“This investment in our aviation infrastructure will position us to handle the future growth that we forecast for Charlotte,” said Secretary Foxx.  

“This new air traffic control facility will help us serve travellers at one of our busiest airline hubs for decades to come.”

He was joined by the FAA’s Deputy Administrator, Michael Whitaker, who noted: “The FAA is committed to modernising our air traffic control system. Investing in NextGen will make air travel more efficient, dependable, and even safer.”

The new air traffic control tower will be equipped with state-of-the-art NextGen technology that will include Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS), Data Communications, Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), and Advanced Electronic Flight Strip System (AEFS). 

Charlotte also is the test site for Airspace Technology Demonstration (ATD-2).

The 850-square-foot tower cab has enough room to accommodate additional future air traffic control positions. 

The 42,000-square-foot base building will house an expanded terminal radar approach control (TRACON), with space for future growth.  

Training rooms, administrative offices, and a power distribution supply system will also be in the base building, along with the latest aviation security and air traffic simulation capabilities.

In addition, the new 370-foot-tall tower at CLT will provide air traffic controllers with a bird’s-eye view of the airfield, and will accommodate current operations and future growth. 
CLT tower

The new Charlotte tower will be the second tallest tower in the National Airspace System after the 398-foot-tall tower at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The existing tower was commissioned in 1979. The facility’s operational growth, new air traffic control technology, and the airport’s addition of new runways and taxiways made the height and size of the old tower obsolete.

Its controllers handled about 225,000 take-off and landings from January 1 to May 31, 2016, making it the fifth busiest tower in the country.  

Traffic at CLT is forecast to grow to 748,000 by 2040.

A total of 179 FAA employees work at Charlotte Tower and TRACON – 136 in Air Traffic and 43 in Technical Operations.  Technical Operations employees install and maintain air traffic control equipment.

The FAA awarded a $60 million contract to build the new facility in January 2016 to Archer Western Construction.  Equipment, installation and training costs, and demolition of the old tower bring the total project cost to $112 million.

Construction of the tower and TRACON base building is expected to be complete in 2018, and the facility will be fully operational in 2020.

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