NEWS

Airport tower nearing completion

Annie Blanks | 315-4450 | @DestinLogAnnie | ablanks@thedestinlog.com
The air traffic control tower at Destin Executive Airport is scheduled to be completed Nov. 23. ANNIE BLANKS/THE LOG

The air traffic control tower at the Destin Executive Airport is scheduled to be completed by the end of next month, according to officials.

The six-story, $4.8 million project, which began construction in November 2015, is scheduled to be completed Nov. 23. The control tower includes a manager’s office, equipment rooms, break space, a new beacon and a “cab,” or the circular room with large glass windows at the very top.

“This is a very sturdy structure,” said Ian Wright, architect and quality control manager for the project.

The Destin airport traffic is currently managed by the air traffic control tower at Eglin Air Force Base. The new control tower will take over Destin airspace management, but will still work in conjunction with Eglin AFB.

Tracy Stage, director of the Destin Executive Airport, said the new control tower is critical to managing Destin’s airspace.

“We’ve got banner (planes), parasailers, commercial airlines, drones, general aviation,” Stage said. “There’s a lot going on in the airspace, and any time you put an air traffic control tower in the middle of all that, there’s going to be a drastic safety enhancement.”

Stage added that the new tower will improve wait times for aircraft landing at and depart from the airport because they will no longer have to wait for Eglin AFB’s air traffic controllers, who are often busy sequencing military aircraft.

The new tower will employ air traffic controllers through the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA will foot the bill for the new positions and salaries, Stage said.

Overall, Stage said the tower will be a vast improvement for the airport.

“First and foremost, from a safety standpoint, this tower is critical," he said. "And to accentuate Eglin Air Force Base's air traffic control abilities is key. Now we’ll have eyes on the field at Destin Executive, which currently is not the case."

The tower is not named yet, but will be named in December or January at a ribbon cutting ceremony.