A new taller control (nearly twice as high at 275 Ft) tower for Charlotte Douglas International Airport might give Charlotte and North Carolina new bragging rights, but is it really necessary?
The World's Tallest Control Tower at Suvarnabhumi
Airport aka Bangkok International (434 Ft.)
It is if you plan on adding another runway. Yep, that's right kidos, Jerry Orr has plans for yet another 9,000 foot runway, the airport's 5th, to bring even more air traffic to the skies over Charlotte.
According to Jack Christine CDIA Planning and Development Manager: "Secretary LaHood was here a month ago and told everyone that Jerry was going to get "his" tower.
It seems the current tower's location and short height prevents air traffic controllers from seeing the ends of the new 18L/36R runway. The line of sight is blocked by trees that are in the process of being cut down and aircraft waiting on the taxiway to access the new runway are blocked, visually, by arriving aircraft, making it difficult for the controllers to see the departing aircraft. According to Christine the FAA currently handles this issue with the use of technology.
Christine says, in a best case scenario, what is needed is a tower to be tall enough so that the controllers can see the aircraft on all the runways at all times. This is the main reason there is a need for a new tower now.
The location CDIA has identified for the new tower is on the south side of the airport, by the US Airways maintenance hangar and crew training facility. The new tower is expected to be nearly 275 feet tall and construction could begin as early as 2012.
Once the tower construction is underway, Orr is reportedly planning for a 4th parallel runway to be located between the new runway 18R/36L and the current 18C/36C.
So who will foot the bill for the new slab of concrete?
According to CDIA spokesperson Christine the FAA will pay the full cost. 18L 36R was completed in 2010 at a cost of $325 million, with the federal government paying $124 million and the rest funded by airport bonds and paid back by a $3 fee added to the cost of your airline ticket.
While the new massive tower might be good news the plans for yet another runway, which will again increase air traffic can't be good news for Charlotte's west side residents and those in the Lake Norman, Lake Wylie flight path areas.
Cedar's Take: I can't imagine spending thousands of dollars on a home expecting to enjoy the peace and quiet of waterfront living only to be bombarded by low flying A310 and 767 aircraft every 3 minutes. Why does Charlotte want to become the world's busiest airport? I'm sure it creates some jobs but the at what price to the quality of life along the Catawba River?
Update May 20, 2011: Believe it or not CP doesn't make stuff up. The plans for a 5th runway were mentioned again during the April 7th CDIA Advisory Meeting which can be read here.