Valdosta airport eyeing upgrades

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By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
May 14, 2018

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- Staff at Valdosta Regional Airport are looking to build a new air traffic control tower behind where the current one sits.

"It's like if you were to trade in your 15-year-old car for a new car," said Jim Galloway, with the airport. "There's going to be quite a bit of improvements. It's still going to have a radio, but the radio, it's going to have a lot more features."

Because of other changes over the years, like expanding the runway and adding other buildings, the current tower is no longer up to code. This project would change that, and also add new features and upgrades like additional generators.

"After one of the hurricanes we had, about half the airfield was without power for about three days," Galloway said. "It would be nice in order to operate the control tower in any sort of power conditions."

Airport staff said air traffic control towers could also spur development in the area.

"It's a safety enhancement feature. So, it doesn't generate revenue, but it brings in indirectly revenue because there are some businesses that require or desire a control tower where they have their aircraft based," Galloway said.

The tower is run by Advanced ATC. The company trains students to become air traffic controllers all across the nation and much of that training is done at the Valdosta airport.

"Anytime a student gets training on a new piece of equipment, it's always helpful when they transfer to another facility because they don't have to train on that particular equipment when they get there," said Daniel Cunningham with Advanced ATC. "It saves them time and training when they get to a new location."

The upgrade is now in the hands of South Georgia voters. If the TSPLOST passes, the airport is asking for about $2 million. Because it would run for ten years, the timeline for the project depends on how the city decides to fund it.