The Federal Aviation Administration has approved a site for a control tower at Jack Edwards National Airport and will fund its operation of $800,000 annually airport officials learned in December. …
The Federal Aviation Administration has approved a site for a control tower at Jack Edwards National Airport and will fund its operation of $800,000 annually airport officials learned in December.
Now that FAA approval has been received, a construction grant through the Airport Trust Fund will be applied for and bids will go out in the spring of 2020.
Pilots who use the airport often will see improved safety and locals will see more control of the air traffic.
Air traffic controllers inside the eight-story tower will begin managing the existing load of private and military flight operations. Jack Edwards is one currently of the busiest airports in the country that operates without a control tower. With 90,000 flights annually, it’s the busiest airport in the state behind Birmingham.
Over the last four years there has been a lot of construction at the airport to prepare for the tower build. Roughly $12 million in federal funds has been used in the design of the terminal. A conceptual design is now complete, and the tower design was modified to match the future terminal design.
Airport officials are currently in discussions with commercial carriers and hope to have a letter of intent from one of them by the end of the year. Once a letter of intent is secured, construction of the two-gate terminal could begin in 12 to 24 months.
“We’re not going to compete with Pensacola. We’re not going to compete with Mobile. We’re looking for people who are wanting to come here now but don’t or are coming by car,” said Scott Fuller, Airport Manager. “Targeted customers will be those coming from Texas and the Midwest.”
Fuller said research shows 480,000 visitors a year fly to other airports to reach their destination of Gulf Shores. The initial goal is to get 10,000 of those customers because it’s the minimum number of passengers required to qualify for funding from airlines which goes toward upkeep of the terminal facilities.