Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport’s new control tower is to officially begin operations on Dec. 16, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said after inspecting the tower’s facilities yesterday afternoon.
The present tower has been in use for 40 years, while the number of aircraft landing at and departing from the airport has risen from less than 100 per day to more than 700, Lin said.
As the airport’s air traffic controllers now direct more than 250,000 aircraft movements per year, its tower has to have smarter facilities, he said.
“The design of the new control tower was inspired by the Queen’s Head in Yehliu Geopark. It has integrated aviation control, automatic dependent surveillance, aviation weather and 12 other advanced systems, enabling air traffic controllers to safely and efficiently guide flight operations with the assistance of intelligent facilities,” Lin said.
He also inspected the control tower simulator that would be used to train new air traffic controllers.
Trainees can monitor the airport’s restricted area using a 360-degree projection screen.
Lin in September tried his hand at air traffic control for a day.
The experience made him realize the contributions made by air traffic controllers, who help guide each flight to ensure they can land and take off safely, Lin said, adding that yesterday’s visit was to pay tribute to them and let the public know how hard they work to keep the skies safe.
Lin also said that he would support the Civil Aeronautics Administration’s (CAA) plan to recruit more controllers.
“They are under tremendous pressure as they have to work in an environment where they process a huge amount of information and things change rapidly. They must be professional and be able to control their emotions,” Lin said. “We support the CAA’s plan to hire more air traffic controllers. In the meantime, we are providing controllers with smart facilities to enhance their service quality.”
According to the agency’s Air Navigation and Weather Services, while the Executive Yuan has set a monthly limit of 162 hours per month for a controller, each controller works an average of about 200 hours per month.
Air Navigation and Weather Services Director Huang Li-chun (黃麗君) said the project to build a new control tower, as well as renovate facilities at its property, was approved by the Executive Yuan in 2012, with construction costing NT$1.27 billion (US$41.75 million at the current exchange rate).
The new control tower is 65m, 19m higher than the old one, and its control room is 2.5 times larger, giving controllers a broader view of the airport’s restricted area as well as the weather, Huang said.
Asked what would happen to the old tower, Lin said it would be demolished.
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