The need for a new ATC tower was identified because the existing building was struggling to cope with increased demands in terms of aircraft movement. Its age, the requirement for new technology, increased air traffic control training and health and safety requirements also contributed to the decision to construct a new tower.
Potential sites for the tower were compared using a computer-generated model of the Airport. The tower had to provide a good view of aircraft on the ground and in the air around the vicinity of the Airport, and it was important that the surrounding buildings did not obstruct the view from the tower.
Airport Director Ann Reynolds explained:
‘The position for the tower was selected to be as close as possible to the runway centre points to allow a balanced view of the whole Airport and good visibility of all the runway thresholds. The site also allows for the construction of the tower to be completed without any disruption to Airport operations and enables the land in the area to be developed without creating shadows, which would hinder the view from the tower.’
The Air Traffic Control team will be located both in the Visual Control Room (VCR) at the top of the tower and in the Approach Radar Facility which is situated on the first floor of the two-story base building. Air Traffic Engineering will be provided with purpose-built technical and administration areas throughout the building.
The stalk of the tower contains a lift shaft, an escape staircase and two separate service shafts – one for building services (power, water and ventilation) and one for avionics (radar and communications). The tower itself is constructed using a process called ‘slipforming’, whereby concrete is poured continuously over a period of several days into a two-dimensional mould which is slowly jacked upwards until the tower reaches its full height.
The Visual Control Room is an octagonal structure measuring eight metres in width. It has large windows, inclined outwards, which allow for the optimum view of all the operational areas of the airfield and the surrounding airspace. The glass is 27mm thick, triple-laminated, heated and tinted with no need for window dividers which would obstruct the view.
The base building is a two-storey, steel-framed structure housing the following areas:
- Radar approach control room and briefing area;
- Main avionics equipment room;
- Workshop and store;
- Main plant room;
- Airfield lighting equipment;
- 'Wet' store room;
- Toilet, showers and locker room;
- Staff kitchenette / rest room.
The structure, roof and cladding of the base building are all built to a modular design, which will allow for future expansion, should it be required. The radar approach control room and the avionics equipment room – the key areas that may need to be enlarged – are located at the far end of the building for this reason.