Every year, commercial aviation contributes $1.3 trillion in total economic activity and accounts for more than five percent of our nation's economic output. It also supports more than 10 million jobs. It is an important engine for economic growth, and at DOT we're doing what we can to ensure that the aviation engine is firing on all cylinders.
That's why I was happy to join Federal Aviation (FAA) Acting Administrator Michael Huerta, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, and San Francisco International Airport Director John Martin in breaking ground on that airport's exciting new air traffic control tower.
I promise you, the new facility at San Francisco International will not be your grandfather's control tower.
This project will put 400 construction workers on the job building a tower that will be more than 30 feet taller than its predecessor and offer an unobstructed, 360-degree view of the airport's operations. It will offer nearly 25 percent more space for air traffic controllers managing San Francisco's busy airspace. And, designed to withstand a magnitude 8.0 earthquake, it will be seismically sturdier than the current tower.
The most advanced development the new tower adds will be the state-of-the-art NextGen air traffic control technology inside. As Acting FAA Administrator Huerta said, “As we modernize the airspace system through NextGen satellite technology, we also have to modernize our facilities."
This will make a safe airfield even safer, and it will also allow the airport to handle takeoffs and landings more efficiently. "What this means for travelers," said Acting Administrator Huerta, "is you are more likely to get to your destination with less delay.”
Moving cement at SFO, photo courtesy San Francisco Sentinel
I've said before that our economy can only grow as fast as our transportation network can carry goods and people where they need to go. By expanding the Bay Area's aviation capabilities, this tower will expand the economic opportunities available to Bay Area residents and businesses.
A strong aviation system is a crucial part of an America built to last, and at DOT we are doing what we can to ensure that strength. With smart, strategic investments, we're working hard to make our aviation network the safest and most efficient it can be. It's not an option; it's an absolute obligation to today's air travelers as well as tomorrow's.