Sky Harbor tower coming 'just in time'

pilot602

If specified, this will replace the title that
Sky Harbor tower coming \'just in time\'

Judy Nichols
The Arizona Republic
May. 13, 2003 12:00 AM

The number of takeoffs and landings at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport regularly outpaces those at Los Angeles International Airport.
"A year ago, we were surpassing LA once or twice a month. Now its once, twice or three times a week," said Gus Nezer, Phoenix hub manager for the Federal Aviation Administration.

To handle the spike in air traffic and a growing number of runways and hard-to-see taxiways, construction began Monday on a $54 million control tower. The new facility, expected to have a life span of about 25 years, also would manage any increased traffic created by a planned fourth runway years in the future.

The tower will be a new landmark for the Valley's skyline. At 335 feet, it will be almost twice the height of the current structure, built 25 years ago. The height will allow an unobstructed view of airplanes on the ground, views that are now partially hidden by terminals and parking garages.

The tower comes "just in time" to ensure passenger safety and provide for growth, Phoenix Mayor Skip Rimsza said Monday. "Any later would put the flying public at risk."

Airport traffic is measured two ways: number of passengers, and takeoffs and landings. Los Angeles has more passenger traffic, but Sky Harbor is regularly outpacing it in takeoffs and landings, Nezer said.

On its busiest days, often Thursdays, Arizona's urban airport has about 1,800 takeoffs and landings, slightly more than the country's third-busiest airport in California.

"That demand deserves state of the art," said William Withycombe, Western-Pacific regional administrator for the FAA.

The project also includes a new Terminal Radar Approach Control, or TRACON, facility, which will have the latest radar and weather technology, making Sky Harbor the most up-to-date airport in the country, according to the FAA.

"The FAA is finally recognizing that the airport is critical for the entire country," Rimsza said.

Rimsza credited Rep. Ed Pastor, D-Ariz., with ensuring Phoenix got the necessary federal funding. Pastor was first invited to visit the old tower five years ago.

"I saw people having a hard time following the planes on the crossing bridges," Pastor said. "They were losing them. They could only see the tops of their tails, not the markings."

Pastor said he knew new gates or terminals would be impossible without a new tower, a restriction that other airports across the country are facing.

Mike Isaacs, the lead program engineer, said the tower would open with 20 scopes, or screens to track planes, and have a capacity for 36. The current tower has 13.

The new technology is more easily modified and updated and communicates more easily with other towers.

Withycombe said he expects continued growth as the airline industry recovers from the downturn after Sept. 11, 2001.

"We know aviation will recover and passenger flight service will grow," Withycombe said. "With the new runway Sky Harbor added, the new control tower and TRACON helping the airport operate more efficiently, Phoenix will be ready for the challenge."

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Two points:

1) The new TRACON may finally help with the IFR problem at DVT/SDL (right now because of the mountains Approachs has to treat them as one airport which induces delays for IFR release).

2) A new runway at PHX? THAT will be an interesting political fight. There's already been rumors/discussions (none seriously, I hope) of shutting down PHX and creating a new airport to serve PHX and TUS halfway between the two cities.
 

MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
Re: Sky Harbor tower coming \'just in time\'

[ QUOTE ]
----------------------------

Two points:

1) The new TRACON may finally help with the IFR problem at DVT/SDL (right now because of the mountains Approachs has to treat them as one airport which induces delays for IFR release).

2) A new runway at PHX? THAT will be an interesting political fight. There's already been rumors/discussions (none seriously, I hope) of shutting down PHX and creating a new airport to serve PHX and TUS halfway between the two cities.


[/ QUOTE ]

Shoot. I still have a pic of me as a kid at PHX old (and since gone) Terminal 1 where I'm standing on the tarmac waiting to board a Hughes Air West DC-9. The pic is taken looking south, and in the background is the old AZ Air National Guard facility with their KC-97Ls on the ramp. That was back when the first Sky Harbor tower was still operational next to Terminal 1.

There's been off again, on again talks of a proposed "regional airport" between PHX and TUS. Initially after Williams AFB closed, there was talk of putting this airport there, but that fell through. The new regional airport was to be in the area of Casa Grande, with the state figuring that TUS and PHX would be "connected" as twin cities in the nexzt 15-20 years.

Incidentally, I flew into IWA the other day and noticed a lot of construction on the south side on what appears to be a new cargo ramp or something. It'll be interesting to see whatever comes of IWA. Since it opened, air ops-wise, there hasn't been too much going on, save for some GA, occasional military and such. Originally, the people running IWA seemed to want to have little to do with GA, opting instead to go right to becoming a reliever for Sky Harbor. They've since, hopefully, realized that one must walk before they can run.

MD
 

pilot602

If specified, this will replace the title that
Re: Sky Harbor tower coming \'just in time\'

There was some talk about a year ago about IWA getting JetBlue to come in there for scheduled service.

Don't think it's a horrible idea but IWA is kind of out of thee way in terms of access to the PHX metro area.
 

MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
Re: Sky Harbor tower coming \'just in time\'

[ QUOTE ]
There was some talk about a year ago about IWA getting JetBlue to come in there for scheduled service.

Don't think it's a horrible idea but IWA is kind of out of thee way in terms of access to the PHX metro area.

[/ QUOTE ]

Supposedly, some study came out that more people that use Sky Harbor, actually live much more in the east valley and closer to IWA than to PHX. Don't know if it's true or not. Come to think of it, I seem to remember Jet Blue saying they wanted to come to IWA. Actually, you notice that IWA has that brand new, albeit completely empty, passenger airline terminal. I'd heard that Southwest wanted to come in, but demanded to IWA that they have both gates (all the getes there), and IWA management said no.

I probably would've said yes, myself.
 

pilot602

If specified, this will replace the title that
Re: Sky Harbor tower coming \'just in time\'

Yeah the JetBlue "rumor" came out when IWA announced the opening of the new terminal. They listed the airlines they were talking with and JetBlue was one of 'em. Of course SkyWest was one also - and that's probably a more reachable goal for them right now.

I don't see SWA giving up their gates over at PHX to move to IWA and for two gates, I dunno, it seems like it would be an awful lot of work/expense to get ops running there.

In any event I think it'd be far easier to get scheduled service running out of IWA than it will be to add aother runway at PHX.

Boston's logan has been trying to add one runway for almost 30 years now. Uck!
 

MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
Re: Sky Harbor tower coming \'just in time\'

[ QUOTE ]
I don't see SWA giving up their gates over at PHX to move to IWA and for two gates, I dunno, it seems like it would be an awful lot of work/expense to get ops running there.

In any event I think it'd be far easier to get scheduled service running out of IWA than it will be to add aother runway at PHX.

Boston's logan has been trying to add one runway for almost 30 years now. Uck!

[/ QUOTE ]

Agree. Even when PHX opened their third runway, there was hell being raised by the city of Tempe over noise. PHX doesn't have much expansion capability land-wise, and I'd love to see where a 4th runway would go.
 

pilot602

If specified, this will replace the title that
Re: Sky Harbor tower coming \'just in time\'

[ QUOTE ]
and I'd love to see where a 4th runway would go.

[/ QUOTE ]

Simple, where the Cards stadium was gonna go!
 

vipermcg

New Member
Re: Sky Harbor tower coming \'just in time\'

Is there any chance of seeing JetBlue at PHX anytime soon?
 

AirmetTango

Well-Known Member
Re: Sky Harbor tower coming \'just in time\'

I attended the Raincheck Safety Forum in Scottsdale on Saturday, and they gave a lot of good information on the new facilities. In addition to the new TRACON building at the base of the new tower, there will be new radar antennae installed that should provide radar coverage to the ground for DVT and SDL, solving (hopefully!) the current IFR problem. They hope to be able to have the radar installation completed at about the same time as the TRACON (2005). Here's a quote from the latest meeting minutes for the Phoenix Airspace User's Workgroup (PAUWG):

"Skip Paschke [Support Manager Phoenix TRACON] briefed that the new ASR-11 radar site will be located on City of Phoenix property, situated at Union Hills and Central. This site location will provide radar service to the ground at Deer Valley and Scottsdale airports. The TRACON has also submitted a request that an additional ASR-11 radar be sited between Tucson and Phoenix to serve Casa Grande, Gateway, Chandler, and provide tower-enroute coverage. The goal in sighting both ASR-11 antennas is to meet current demands, while building an infrastructure for the future."

The full meeting minutes can be found at:
PAUWG, 1-16-2003

It's a pretty dry read, but it has some interesting info!
 

Kristie

Mama Bear....
Staff member
Re: Sky Harbor tower coming \'just in time\'

[ QUOTE ]
2) A new runway at PHX? THAT will be an interesting political fight. There's already been rumors/discussions (none seriously, I hope) of shutting down PHX and creating a new airport to serve PHX and TUS halfway between the two cities.

[/ QUOTE ]

gosh, i hope not - it's already hard enough just getting to/from sky harbor!! esp. during rush hour!!

maybe with the new runway, they're talking about the runway that will be opening and operational soon? I don't think they have enough land space to put another runway in....
anyone know more bout that?
 

Mavmb

Well-Known Member
Re: Sky Harbor tower coming \'just in time\'

I heard a rumor that they are going to send some of the cargo flights from Sky Harbor to Williams Gateway. Don't know if that's true or not.
 
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