The new air traffic control tower at RSW is ready to start keeping an eye on the growing number of flights at the airport. While it is currently not being used, it is expected to begin operating next year.
The 225-foot high tower provides controllers with a 360-degree view of the airport. The tower is also the only one in the country that was not built with FAA funding. Half of the $80 million price tag came from the Florida Department of Transportation and the other half came from fees paid by all those travelers.
Executive Director of the Lee County Port Authority Ben Siegel said, “this is a critical component for really the future of Southwest Florida International Airport.”
The tower is the brains behind all air traffic, and it needs to have a bird’s-eye view of everything, from the planes taking off and landing, to the terminal and gates.
The old tower is only half the height of the one, which means it isn’t high enough to handle the planned expansion.
David Woods, the lead designer & architect with Pond & Co., said, “so now this is located central along with our ARFF (Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting) facility so you can see both the existing runway over here all of the terminal parking and over here to the future runway. The current tower is only 120-feet tall and at that height, you could not see over here to get all the safe views that the faa needs to operate their tower.”
In the last past 20 years, RSW has seen a 56% increase in passengers. The airport is already expanding the existing terminal and soon will have a new concourse and in the next 15 years will add another runway.
Siegel said, “people want to come here and we gotta make sure that we’re growing with the community and were prepared to do that.”
Once all the equipment is in the tower and the FAA signs off, cameras will never be allowed inside again.