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Investing in Aviation Infrastructure

Posted by the Federal Aviation Administration

When the Wright Brothers first took off from the North Carolina coast, they never dreamed that Charlotte would be one of the country’s leading hubs for air travel a century later. It may surprise you to learn that Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) is the second busiest airport on the East Coast and the sixth busiest in the United States. Last year, the FAA Air Traffic Control Tower at CLT handled more than 500,000 flights, and we expect that to grow to 745,000 flights in the next 15 years.

We’re getting ready to handle the projected growth by investing $112 million in a new air traffic control tower and radar approach control that will open in 2020.  This investment in our aviation infrastructure will allow us to handle the steadily increasing number of flights and passengers safely and efficiently for decades to come.  Last year, almost 22 million passengers boarded flights at CLT and we expect that to grow to 31.5 million people by 2033.

Air Traffic Controllers at the top of the 370-foot-tall tower will have bird’s-eye view of the airfield, including future infrastructure projects that the Airport is planning and that we’re studying right now.  The expanded tower cab will have enough room to accommodate more air traffic control positions, which we’ll add as the traffic grows. Last month we topped off the new tower by hoisting one of our most visible safety systems that allows controllers to track aircraft and airport vehicles on the airfield - Airport Surveillance Detection Equipment.

Air Traffic Controllers working in the new, larger Terminal Radar Approach Control also will have at their fingertips the latest navigation, surveillance and communications technology. Expanded training capabilities will help us prepare future generations of controllers to meet the coming traffic demands. We’re even investing in huge engine generators that will ensure the facility continues to run if commercial power fails. 

Growth, technology advances and airport expansion made the current 40-year-old tower obsolete.  Visionary FAA planners and engineers are making the new tower a reality soon.

This investment in aviation infrastructure will pay dividends well into the future.  It will position us to grow as industry advances and continue to serve travelers with safer and more efficient flights.

Air Traffic Control tower

(An Airport Surface Detection Equipment (ASDE) antenna was placed atop the new tower at Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) to keep flights safe by providing radar coverage for aircraft and other vehicles that move on the airport surface.)