LAS VEGAS – FAA Administrator Michael Huerta recently joined federal and local officials to dedicate the new air traffic control facility at McCarran International Airport (KLAS).
The project includes a 352-foot air traffic control tower and a 59,000-square-foot base building, which houses the Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON), air traffic control training simulators, administrative offices, and equipment.A taller tower was needed to provide controllers with better airfield views, FAA officials said, noting the new tower is the second-tallest in the country. The old tower, which the FAA started using in 1983, was about 200 feet tall.
McCarran’s air traffic also has increased dramatically since the old facility was built, creating a need for more controller space in both the tower and TRACON. The airport served about 140,000 flights in 1983. Last year, it handled about 525,000 flights, making it the nation’s seventh-busiest airport.
The new tower’s controller work area, known as the cab, is 850 square feet — more than 50% larger than the old facility.
The cab’s unique design consists of two levels. Ground controllers, who handle aircraft between the terminals and runways, are located on the lower deck, closer to the airport surface. Local controllers, who handle arriving and departing aircraft and aircraft on the runways, sit in the raised area, which enables them to better coordinate with one another by enabling more direct communication. Equipment is mounted on moveable arms, which allows each controller to adjust it to suit his or her needs.
The 2,100 square-foot TRACON is more than twice the size of the old one. It can accommodate up to 20 air traffic control positions – four more than in the old building.
The tower and TRACON both have state-of-the-art information displays that integrate systems displaying traffic, weather, and radar data into one workstation. Touch-screen technology allows controllers to move easily between the different screens.
The control tower handles air traffic on the airport surface and in the airspace within a five-mile mile radius of McCarran, up to an altitude of 3,000 feet. The TRACON handles airborne aircraft within about a 35-mile radius of McCarran, up to 19,000 feet in altitude.
The total project cost — including the building construction, installation of air traffic control equipment, electronics, and electrical and mechanical systems — was about $111 million.