Flintco building new air traffic control tower at Memphis International

July 11, 2008

Memphis Business Journal - Gwynn Bradley

After 31 years, Memphis International Airport's air traffic control tower will soon be replaced with a $61.5 million facility constructed by Flintco, Inc.

The new tower will rise 336 feet -- about 150 feet above the current tower -- making it the third largest in the South behind Atlanta and Orlando, Fla.

With the increased height, the tower will be able to oversee the entire airport as well as additional runways included in the airport's 20-year master plan, according to Bill Wertz, Federal Aviation Administration control tower manager.
Office space atop the tower will also be expanded allowing for more radar, communication and weather equipment.

New technology includes the ASDE-X ground radar system, which penetrates rain and fog to update locations of all vehicles at the airport; an Enhanced Traffic Management System to measure local and national air traffic; and three weather-mapping systems to predict weather events and their arrival time and measure wind speed and wind shears.

The Information Display System, which will also be channeled into the airport terminals, online and via phone, updates the management and announcement of flight arrivals and departures.

At 850 square feet, the additional cab space gives more room for the staff as well. The current cab at the top of the tower was built to house one ground control and one local control officer at a time. In the new tower there will be three of each in addition to other staff and trainees, according to Wertz.

"They are literally bumping into each other in that space," he says.

The square footage of offices at the base of the tower will be enlarged by 50% to accommodate staff, training rooms and an expansion of the airport's terminal radar approach control system, or TRACON.

With the expansion, TRACON can cover up to 40 miles with its ground radar surveillance.
Improved safety will also be addressed in the new tower's design with the installation of blast-resistant doors and windows.

The FAA gave the $52.2 million construction contract to Flintco, which has already completed the first phase, including relocation of utilities and fiber optics and construction of a new parking lot for tower staff because the new tower is being built in the previous lot, says Kevin Moyes, Flintco division president.

Designs for the tower and office space came from the FAA and have been tested to stand up to severe weather and seismic activity.

More than 2.6 million pounds of steel will be used in the tower, and support will reach down 60 feet, according to Tim Weatherford, Flintco vice president of pre-construction.

After the support is drilled into the ground, an 8-foot-thick concrete mat will cover it to complete phase two. For phase three, the tower, cab and ground building will be built. Most of the cab will be built on the ground and then transferred to the top of the tower.

At the peak of construction, 150 workers will be on site.

"The project is not labor intensive. It does not call for a lot of man power, but it's very technically oriented," Weatherford says. The tower's design calls for precise electrical requirements to ensure it has power 24 hours a day, he says.

To give continuous electrical power, Flintco will install duplicate systems and emergency generators. During construction, FAA inspectors, a Flintco electrician and an electrical subcontractor will oversee the installation, according to Weatherford.

The tentative date for completion is the summer of 2010. Progress of the tower's construction can be viewed via a live camera at www.oxblue.com/pro/open/flintco/memphiscontrol.

Flintco, Inc.
Commercial construction company

HQ: Tulsa, Okla.

Division president: Kevin Moyes

Address: 2179 Hillshire Circle

Phone: (901) 372-9600

Web site: www.flintco.com