Senior Wellington air traffic controller Nathan O'Keeffe sits on position in the new Wellington air traffic control tower.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 23, 2018
Iconic new Wellington air traffic control tower ready for take off
Airways’ new Wellington air traffic control tower opened today, showcasing a unique design to appear as if it’s leaning into the prevailing wind.
It will be one of the last bricks and mortar air traffic control towers to be built in New Zealand, as Airways explores using digital technology to improve how it delivers air traffic control in the future.
With a nod to Wellington's famous breeze, the $20.18 million new tower combines a super strong and safe structure with excellent functionality and stunning urban design.
Graeme Sumner, Airways CEO, said, “Our air traffic control towers are icons of New Zealand’s aviation industry, and one of our most tangible and visible representations of the work we do every day keeping our skies safe.
“As we look to the future of a more digitally driven way of delivering air traffic control, it’s fitting that one of the last of these physical towers to be built will be our most distinctive.”
The old tower, which had been operating for 61 years from its Tirangi Road site, needed to be replaced before digital technology had advanced sufficiently to meet the immediate ongoing needs of the airport.
“We’re confident that digital towers technology now has the capability to provide greater aviation safety, resiliency and the option to provide extended levels of services to New Zealand’s regions,” says Mr Sumner, “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.”
Meanwhile the new Wellington tower will support the more than 97,000 flights that arrive and depart Wellington Airport each year.
Built to meet 100 per cent of the building code for a structure of its importance level, the tower is one of New Zealand’s safest buildings. Thirteen base isolators have been installed within its foundations to provide a high level of resilience against earthquakes.
Controllers working in the tower cab will have 360-degree views of the airfield from 32 metres above. They’ll be completing final training and checks before they begin managing live traffic from the tower on Sunday.
The new tower was officially opened by Airways Chair, Judy Kirk.
New Wellington Air Traffic Control Tower facts:
• The tower took two and a half years to build
• It’s one of New Zealand’s first buildings constructed to withstand a tsunami
• The architect was Studio Pacific and the builders were Hawkins Construction
• 22 controllers manage around 8,000 flight movements each month at Wellington airport.