Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Quick Look Inside the Mackay Airport Air Traffic Control Tower

Recently, I was able to spend a short time up inside the Mackay Airport Air Traffic Control Tower.

The tower is operated by Airservices Australia and is designated as a Class D Control Tower which operates from around 7am to 9pm seven-days-a-week.  The Tower was commissioned in 1971 - making it just over 40 years old!

Operations inside the landmark octagonal tower on Milton Street is still paper-strip based, with paper strips for arrivals and departures, as well as air transits, still hand-written by controllers.

The tower was designed to ensure pillars between the glass did not block controllers' views of the runway and to provide a clear line of sight for air traffic controllers. Controllers can see pretty much all of the Airport, with the exception of some parking bays at the Airport terminal where camera stream live images into the Tower.

When the Tower was built in the early 1970s, Mackay was one of the busiest regional airports in the country, with all Whitsunday tourism traffic passing through. Hamilton Island Airport did not exist and Proserpine was just a minor airfield.

I'd like to thank the staff at AirServices Australia - and in particular the Mackay Airport controllers - for allowing me the opportunity to pay the Control Tower a visit!

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