Melbourne airport to get new, taller air traffic control tower

By Greg Pallone, Brevard County Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, November 15, 2016, 4:59 PM EST

The skyline of Melbourne will soon change with a new air traffic control tower at Orlando Melbourne International Airport.

  • New Air Traffic Control tower at Orlando Melbourne Airport
  • Taller, bigger, more state of the art
  • Expected to be finished next year

It's steady work inside the current control tower each day. Crews handle 100,000 landings and takeoffs a year.

But for the air traffic controllers, their cramped work space is more than half a century old, and for the most part is outdated.

"We want to make sure the controllers have the very best equipment to keep pace with the growth that's taking place here," said Greg Donovan, Orlando Melbourne International Airport's director.

Donovan has done what three previous executive directors couldn't -- get approval for a new $5.5 million tower that's 115 feet tall, nearly twice the size of the old one, with 200 square feet of extra space inside.

The new tower is not only taller, it allows the controllers to see the entire airport better. Plus it's state of the art, including next generation technology developed by Melbourne's Harris Corporation.

"We found it ironic we had an outdated tower literally right across the street from the world's leading supplier of air traffic control systems," Donovan said.

Donovan said the funding plan for the new tower uses funds from FDOT matched with money generated solely by the airport, and put back into future projects.

Debbie Steinhour just flew in and is visiting family on the Space Coast.

She, like airport leaders, see a building like this one as a recruiting tool too.

"If this airport were more up to date, it would be easier to get more businesses in and out," said Steinhour.

The new tower is expected to be complete in October 2017.