New £11m control tower keeping order above and below
A brand new £11 million control tower has been opened at Camp Bastion Airfield in Afghanistan – now the second busiest UK-run airport after Heathrow. The state-of-the-art facility will handle more than 26,000 air movements each month.
It replaces the old one which was housed in a cabin on stilts. The new advanced tower is said to be the RAF’s best.
Squadron Leader Tommy O’Flaherty, Bastion’s Senior Air Traffic Control Officer, said:
“Communications are very high tech – most of the communications are done online through different computer systems and that’s probably the biggest difference from UK units.”
In Bastion’s crowded skies technology can save time when controllers have to suddenly make space for medical emergency helicopters or the artillery’s long-range rockets. But even with hi-tech help Air Traffic Control Officer Flight Lieutenant Paul Milne admits the job can still be a test of nerve.
“It’s a bit fraught at times – yes – I suppose. But we’re all sort of doing our best and the guys are adapted really well to the demands of this place,”
The new tower features a sign to Shawbury where air traffic controllers are first trained. Bastion – with up to 1,000 aircraft a day to handle – is said to be the advanced course and anyone who passes here shouldn’t fail anywhere else.
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