Nelson’s new air traffic control tower open for business

Airways today opened its new air traffic control tower at Nelson Airport. The new tower will support more than 46,000 flights that arrive into and depart one of New Zealand’s busiest regional airports every year.

The $6 million tower has been built by Airways as Nelson Airport undertakes a major redevelopment including a new terminal building and infrastructure upgrades.

Combining a strong and safe structure with excellent functionality, the new control tower is a significant investment that will help to enable the future growth of aviation and tourism in Nelson, Airways CEO Graeme Sumner says.

“It’s a facility fit for one of New Zealand’s busiest regional aerodromes and has been designed to underpin Nelson Airport’s growth with continued safe and efficient air traffic services.”

Located to the east end of the new airport terminal, the six level 22-metre high tower will give air traffic controllers an optimal view of the airfield. It has been built to meet complete modern building standards and brings an end to air traffic control services being located on top of the terminal building where a control cab has sat since 1974.

“One of the quirks of having the cab on top of the terminal was that if the terminal fire alarm happened to go off, we would need to pause our service. Having a standalone tower adds to the resilience of our service,” Mr Sumner says.

Nelson tower will likely be on the of the last bricks and mortar air traffic control towers to open in New Zealand, following the opening of Wellington’s leaning tower on August 23, as Airways looks ahead to digital tower technology. Nelson tower needed to be replaced before the technology had advanced sufficiently.

“We’re confident that digital tower technology now has the capability to provide greater aviation safety and resiliency,” Mr Sumner says. “The technology also provides greater opportunities to extend services in New Zealand’s regions.”

Invercargill will be the first airport to launch a digital tower in 2020 and a contingency digital tower will also be in place in Auckland by 2020.

Air traffic controllers are completing final training before they begin managing live traffic from the new Nelson tower on Sunday.

The tower was officially opened by Airways Board Chair Judy Kirk.

Nelson Airport CEO Rob Evans says: “Congratulations to Airways on this wonderful addition to Nelson Airport. This new tower will provide much greater resilience as the airport continues to grow into the future to support a vibrant and extraordinary region.

“The design compliments our stunning new terminal in delivering what will be an unrivalled regional airport experience for all our customers.”

ENDS

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