New tower boosts safety

New tower boosts safety

By Jeff DeLong • jdelong@rgj.com • October 27, 2010

Flight safety has been improved and the future of aviation at Reno-Tahoe International Airport will take off following the opening of a new air traffic control tower, officials said Tuesday.

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The Federal Aviation Administration’s operation of the new tower started Saturday but was celebrated Tuesday at a ceremony outside the 195-foot-high structure.
“We have achieved a towering achievement,” said Krys Bart, president and chief executive officer of the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority.
The new tower — three times the height of the airport’s old tower, which was erected in 1957 — gives FAA controllers a much-improved view of aircraft on airport runways and ramps. From the old tower, parts of the airport were not visible.
The change, officials said, represents a substantial improvement in airport safety.
“Greater elevation means better visibility, and better visibility translates to greater safety,” said Roderick Hall, the FAA’s assistant administrator for government affairs. “Safety is our mission and our passion, and basically, that’s what this project is all about.”

The tower has “probably quadrupled” safety not only for airliners but for cargo planes, general aviation and military aircraft, said Brig. Gen. Bill Burks, adjutant general of the Nevada National Guard. The airport is home to the Guard’s 152nd Airlift Wing of C-130 cargo aircraft.
Construction of the tower, which commenced in 2008, provided 140 jobs during the heart of the recession, Bart said. She credited the project’s funding with bipartisan support from Nevada’s congressional delegation. She gave particular credit to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who she said earmarked funds for construction over several years.

Reid, now in a tough bid for re-election against Republican former Assemblywoman Sharron Angle, attended Tuesday’s ceremony.
He noted that the new tower helps elevate Reno-Tahoe International to a “world-class airport” in line with the region’s standing as a tourist destination.
The last tower, Reid said, was built when Reno was a “rather sleepy town” that has since tripled in population.
“It’s fitting we open a new control tower that’s three times as tall,” Reid said. “When we look at this new, soaring tower, we see Reno’s future.”

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