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Atlanta Air Traffic Tower To be Tallest in Nation

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Guest donaltopablo


Airport's new tower will be tallest in nation


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 04/14/04

The tallest air traffic control tower in the country soon will stand watch at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

The Federal Aviation Administration is building a tower that will rise 398 feet from its base to the tip of its lightning rods.

Workers have built 84 feet so far, and the agency plans to occupy it in May 2006, just before the airport's fifth runway opens.

Atlanta's new control tower will surpass Orlando's, now the nation's tallest at 345 feet. Miami's airport has the third-tallest, at 333 feet. Both Florida towers were completed in the last two years.

Hartsfield-Jackson needs a new tower because the airport plans an international terminal where the current 232-foot tower stands.

The added height is meant to ensure controllers have clear sightlines to the entire airport when its long-term expansion is complete, the FAA says. The expansion includes the fifth runway, the international terminal and another planned terminal close to the fifth runway.

Hartsfield-Jackson must pay the $31 million cost of the tower because the FAA is building it only to facilitate the expansion, not to ensure aircraft safety, an FAA spokeswoman said.

However, FAA officials say the new tower will include enhanced radar and other equipment that will boost the number of planes that can land each hour in bad weather.

Those improvements, combined with the fifth runway, will enable Hartsfield-Jackson to handle 224 planes per hour in bad weather, up from 167 currently, they said.

In addition, new software will link radar in the tower to aircraft systems, enabling pilots to monitor taxiway traffic on a cockpit screen. That should reduce the risk of ground collisions.

"It helps us keep better track of who is where on the taxiway," said Steve Osterdahl, the FAA's regional air traffic general manager.

The new tower is near the current tower. It will have a three-story office building and a parking deck at its base.

The tower's "cab"

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