At DOT, we’re doing our part to maintain the best – and the safest – aviation system in the world. That means making sure our air traffic control towers feature the best safety technology and the clearest sight lines we can provide. And, for the Federal Aviation Administration and our nation's airports, that means investing in an America built to last.
Today, I was pleased to join FAA Acting Administrator Michael Huerta in Pennsylvania to dedicate the new airport traffic control tower at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.
Made possible by $20.5 million in Recovery Act funding, this new tower will help make air travel even safer, modernize our air traffic control system, and support businesses in northeastern Pennsylvania. But it couldn't have been built without the vision and leadership of the Bi-County (Lackawanna and Luzerne) Airport Board that operates Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International.
At 118 feet tall, the new tower reaches twice the height of the 60-year-old tower it replaces, giving air traffic controllers better airfield views and improved lines of sight. In addition, the tower uses the latest radar and communications technology, including state-of-the-art equipment to enable future NextGen technologies.
All of this will really help the men and women who guide planes safely in and out of the airport every day. This morning, as we toured the tower, their enthusiasm for the well-equipped, modern facility was clear.
In addition to the tower's aviation features, it also boasts a high-tech climate control system and was constructed with energy-efficient materials to reduce heating and ventilation costs. That's good for everyone.
As Acting Administrator Huerta said, “This tower is a symbol of the FAA’s commitment to aviation safety and to modernizing the air traffic control system. Upgrading our aviation infrastructure to support NextGen will help to maintain the world’s largest and safest aviation system.”
Transportation investments like this modern tower will help ensure that we stay competitive in the global economy and give our kids and grandkids a modern transportation network that ensures safe and reliable travel.
But we know that investing in aviation is more than an investment in safety. Since improved air travel gives businesses more efficient access to markets and new customers, and since civil aviation contributes 10 million jobs and $1.3 trillion annually to our nation's economy, we're also investing in American competitiveness.
I know that this new tower will be a symbol of both safety and economic prosperity that will serve northeastern Pennsylvania well for generations to come.