A new control tower and high-tech instrument landing system are expected to make the Arlington Municipal Airport safer and more competitive with other area airports, the airport's manager said.
The control tower, largely funded by a $1.375 million federal grant, is expected to become operational in January. The $2.5 million instrument landing system, paid for by the Federal Aviation Administration, is expected to be in use by 2007.
The improvements are designed to aid pilots in safely landing and taking off, and should attract new customers to the south Arlington airport, which averages 147,000 flights a year, airport manager Bob Porter said.
"These amenities will help the airport become the corporate choice of the Metroplex," Porter said.
The airport has expanded significantly in the past 17 years through more than $30 million in federal funding, extending and strengthening its runway and acquiring 150 more acres, Porter said.
The airport houses 22 businesses, including five flights schools and Bell Helicopter Textron, and serves recreational and other private pilots as well as corporate cargo and passenger planes.
As part of the project, antennas placed along the runway will send radio signals to pilots' instruments to help them to locate precisely where to land.
This is especially useful when fog or overcast skies reduce visibility, said Les Cothron, a pilot who has used Arlington Municipal Airport for more than 30 years.
"There are times in which it can be hard to find," said Cothron, who has had three near-collisions at the airport's runway.
Arlington, which has worked for 15 years to receive federal funding for the projects, is one of the last general aviation airports in the Metroplex to gain a tower and instrument landing system, Porter said.
Meacham, Spinks and Alliance airports in Fort Worth all have control towers and instrument landing systems. After Spinks Airport added a control tower in 2001, air traffic there rose from 33,000 flights a year to 82,000, said Mike Feeley, airport systems director for the city of Fort Worth.
"The corporate operators like the safety and security of the control tower and the ILS, knowing they can get in and out of the airport" regardless of weather conditions, Feeley said.
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