Air traffic

Air traffic control tower at Jack Edwards National Airport in Gulf Shores nearing completion | New

Construction of the new air traffic control tower at Jack Edwards National Airport in Gulf Shores is nearing completion. When finished, several things will happen. The most important factor is safety. When operational, all aircraft will be steered according to a controlled pattern with a broader and organized approach. Then comes the passenger service.

Jack Edwards is buzzing with thefts. The only busiest airport in Alabama is Birmingham. The organization of all inbound and outbound flights will be the responsibility of the air traffic controllers and they will do so from the new eight-story control tower built on the south side of the airfield.

“There are a lot of airlines that don’t fly into an uncontrolled airport, so it opens that door, yes, but we need it,” said airport manager Scott Fuller. “There are a lot of planes that won’t fly here because of the congestion.”

Between military training, flight school and the sheer number of private flights, Jack Edwards sees approximately 90,000 flight operations per year. Having a control tower is the first step towards the goal of providing commercial passenger service to Gulf Shores. A large carrier is already interested, but two smaller departments will start operations first.

“The two we have letters of intent on are Elite Airways, which are considering starting in Nashville and Sun Country, which are considering Minneapolis,” Fuller said. “Based on our studies, these are two of our main markets. Nashville is open year round. We have a lot of side owners here from Nashville and Minneapolis that really show up in the winter for some reason.

The facility can accommodate 737-class jets that can accommodate up to 180 passengers. The hope is to then lock down a major carrier that would serve Dallas.

Officials with the city of Gulf Shores said the benefits to the city were significant. The more flight options there are into the city, the less congestion there is on already crowded roads. Mayor Robert Craft said it was an immediate improvement in the quality of life for many of the people living near the airfield.

“We have a lot of naval training and army training flights going back and forth, and they make several trips a day and they touch each other and go, and they fly over the southern part of the Intracoastal and they go all the way up to the northern part and it’s really annoying for a lot of people who live there because it’s 20 or 30 times a day there are loud planes flying over their houses so that will give us control flight safety. It will also help us solve some of our noise issues, ”Craft explained.

The construction of the tower alone cost six million dollars. The construction of a terminal, parking lots, an on-site fire station and other items needed to start passenger service will cost around an additional $ 25 million. The Airport Authority plans to subcontract (privatize) the construction and operation of the terminal. If all goes according to plan, commercial flights could start by December 2022.

All content © 2021, WALA; Mobile, Alabama. (A Meredith Corporation station). All rights reserved.

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