Growing tourism hotspot breaks ground on towering addition

Growing tourism hotspot breaks ground on towering addition
William Withycombe
William Withycombe

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

KEAHOLE, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A growing hotspot for Hawaii tourism is getting new technology to keep up with all the flights.

A nearly 40 million dollar air traffic control tower in Kona

The Federal Aviation Administration broke ground for the new tower at Kona Airport.

The existing tower was built in 1970 to control a 6,500 runway. A 1993 extension to 11,000 feet made it difficult for controllers to see the north end of the runway.

This taller, new tower hopes to provide better airfield views. It's double in size when compared the old one.

It's being built on seven acres of land north of the passenger terminal, about one mile away from the current tower.

"We're getting to be a pretty large airport here and I think it's important that we stay with what's necessary," Kona resident Bruce Clifford said.

The new tower will include an additional radar display and a touch screen display communications system. The current one uses push buttons to call up radio frequencies.

"From a standpoint of aviation safety, it's important that we have the latest technology available to be able to ensure that this airport operates as safely as it could possibly operate," FAA West Pacific Region administrator William Withycombe said.

The FAA will preserve an old hawaiian trail near the tower that wasn't covered by lava flows.

Construction of the new tower is scheduled to begin in December. Officials say may 2012 is when they'll start using it.

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