Consult with pilots on the need for an air traffic control tower
Did you know that there are over 15,000 public and private airports in the United States, and only about 300 are served by airlines? There are only 648 airport control towers nationwide. As a result, there are approximately 14,000 airports without control towers. So the question is: does our small airport need a control tower?
Our airport does not have any training facilities or flight schools and does not have on-site charter operations. Our airport is not served by airlines or any freight activity. We have Grand Canyon tour operations based here, but they haven’t had a negative impact on our air traffic.
I’m far from an aviation expert, but have been a pilot since 1975 and started charter flying in 1982, operating everything from small private propeller planes to larger DC3 transport planes and private jets. . During my many years, I have flown in and out of airports with and without control towers.
Recently, I have flown private jet flights to Ketchikan and Sitka, Alaska. These two airports are served by two airlines, Alaska and Delta, as well as countless charter and general aviation aircraft. These often busy airports do not have control towers and do not have local radar coverage similar to that of Boulder City.
Sitka Airport also has a US Coast Guard base and a FedEx facility. Still no control tower.
It is important to understand how the Federal Aviation Administration determines whether or not an aerodrome warrants a control tower. While there are many factors that come into play, it is usually the number of daily take-offs and landings. The current number that seems to prevail on a number of websites for Boulder City is 300, which is obviously inflated since there is no one observing daily operations in order to make an accurate count and my personal observation refutes this. number.
What our city officials use to justify the need for a tower are not factual numbers; it is âanecdotal evidenceâ. Look for him; it makes you think.
Currently and since 2003, I have flown our Cessna 210 (a single engine propeller plane) from Boulder City Airport without any problems. There has never been a mid-air collision at our airport, proof of the professionalism of the many pilots who frequent our aerodrome. Of course, there have been a few near misses, but they can and do happen at airports with towers.
Automatic dependent surveillance in broadcast mode is currently in every cockpit of every aircraft and helicopter that operates at our airport. Mandated early last year, all aircraft must have this system installed, which in most cases allows pilots to know the position of other aircraft in the area.
Another technology that almost all turbine-powered aircraft must have is the Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System. Both of these technologies have been valuable tools in helping to avoid potential mid-air collisions. Ask your city council member what ADS-B or TCAS is and you’ll get a deer gaze in the headlights. You see, the average person doesn’t have the aviation knowledge to understand how pilots can safely handle a flight to and from an aerodrome without a tower.
Frankly, I don’t expect them to. Aviation is a unique activity requiring communication skills and knowledge of the airspace as well as piloting skills. What the general public should understand is that airports without towers are safe. Remember, there are over 14,000 that are working safely.
So why does Boulder City need an airport tower? Traffic control is the general idea (which may or may not provide additional security). All aircraft movements on the ground and in the air would be controlled by tower personnel, which can result in delays and additional workload for the pilot. Isn’t it interesting that we have a city council making a decision about our airport with little or no aviation knowledge like âanecdotal evidenceâ?
Why has no one contacted the pilot community for their opinion on the matter? What this airport really needs is an office complex ready to be rented out for a flight school, charter operations and maybe a restaurant. Additional hangers are a must, especially for slightly larger planes.
The length of the runway is certainly not an issue for the majority of aircraft that currently operate here. The lengthening of the track will only encourage the arrival of larger machines, which will cause noise and parking problems.
So, do we need a tower? Maybe, maybe not. Why not organize a workshop / seminar and invite the pilots who use our airport to discuss the pros and cons. Perhaps that would provide a better understanding of what our airport requirements really are.
The opinions expressed above belong solely to the author and do not represent the views of Boulder City Review. They have been edited for grammar, spelling, and style only, and have not been checked for views for accuracy.
G. Kevin Savord is currently a commercial pilot and former small business owner. He can be contacted at [email protected]