New high-tech traffic tower opens at LaGuardia Airport

The new 233-foot tall air traffic control tower at New York's LaGuardia Airport has a 360-degree view for controllers and is much taller than the old tower. AP Photo/Business Wire
By Philip Newman

LaGuardia Airport air traffic controllers have moved into a new $100 million high-tech control tower that replaces the obsolete tower that was the latest thing when it opened 46 years ago.

The switch over to the new aluminum-clad tower took place at midnight this past Sunday.

At 233 feet, the new tower provides a 360-degree view for air traffic controllers watching runways and taxiways, compared with the 151-foot former tower.

Federal Aviation Administration officials said that when the former tower was installed, the technology used today did not exist, such as computer monitors. The new tower provides space to accommodate the new technology, including the NextGen air traffic control system, and is outfitted with fiber optics for voice and data communications. A new ground radar system, ASDE-X — Airport Surface Detection Equipment — sits atop the new structure.

“We built a control tower that will provide safer air traffic control services now and well into the future,” said Leo Prusak, the FAA air traffic manager at LaGuardia Airport.

The new tower includes a two-story, 17,380-square-foot base housing administrative offices, space for electrical, mechanical and electronic equipment as well as room for employee breaks and locker rooms.

The $100 million cost of the structure includes design, construction and equipment. The $62.8 million contract to build the tower was awarded to Torcon Inc. of Red Bank, N.J., and construction began Dec. 1, 2006.

LaGuardia Airport handled 22.1 million passengers in 2009, compared with 11.5 million in 1970.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com or phone at 718-260-4536.

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