Tower (aviation)

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The tower of Kuala Lumpur Airport in the morning sun

The Tower ( engl. Air traffic control tower (TWR)), or air traffic control tower is a tower on airfields, is also controlled by the movement of the aircraft both in the air (takeoff, landing) than at the bottom.

Highest airport tower in Europe at Vienna Airport

Tasks, function

The control tower has two different functions depending on the type of airfield:

At uncontrolled airfields, it houses the flight control (radio call sign: "Info"), which mainly supplies aircraft arriving and departing with information (instructions can only be given in exceptional situations to avert danger).

At controlled airfields, an air traffic control point (radio call sign: "Turm" or "Tower") is located on the control tower. This gives instructions and clearances for traffic control to arriving and departing machines. These are fundamentally binding for the pilots (exception: emergency and dangerous situations). The greater part of air traffic control works on monitors and is not located in the tower, but mostly in buildings or rooms next to it. The following division of tasks is usually used in a control tower of larger airfields:

While tower controllers regulate the traffic in the air and on the runway , taxi or ground controllers regulate the traffic on the departure and arrival taxiways to and from the runway. Often there is another special traffic regulation on the apron by the apron controllers of the apron control . Pilots play a special role in so-called "clearance delivery". You give the aircraft departing according to instrument flight rules your starting and route clearance.

The height of a tower depends on the required overview of the maneuvering area and the approaching and departing aircraft as well as the clearance of the lateral transition areas (this is part of the obstacle clearance system ).
Radio antennas that require a certain height are occasionally installed on the tower.

As a command center with a critical key function, access is strictly regulated and particularly high security requirements apply, for example for fire protection and uninterruptible power supply .

Location, construction

Control towers were general and are still placed on small airfields next to the hangar and often attached to the office building. Today they are often completely independent and sometimes also on the side of the airport building facing away from air traffic, which means that the view and taxiing traffic on the apron are not disturbed and there is a somewhat more distant view from the side of the movements on the runway from the tower .

Towers originally had a single floor with windows for observation and a rectangular floor plan. Today towers with two or more viewing levels dominate. With a large number of flat glass surfaces, round or rounded floor plans are often implemented for a more uniform all-round view. A ceiling protruding outwards opposite the ring-shaped work table on the window ledge provides a certain protection from the sun when the sun is high. If the window areas at the top strive towards this ceiling edge, i.e. are inclined upwards outwards, the pilots do not see any reflections from light sources from the work tables (screens, table lamps) in the panes when looking at what is happening in the air. For this reason, the ceiling must not carry any lights.

A tower with only one slanting disc is an icon for an airfield. Towers or pulpits with similar design in basic principles for similar functions are pending:

  • Ski jumps and flying hills ,
  • other sports facilities and lifts that require precise monitoring of the progress on a track that is only to be used successively,
  • Watchtowers at borders and prisons.

Tallest towers

Web links

Commons : Airport Towers  - Collection of Pictures, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. Aviation manual AIP IFR Germany, page AD 2 EDDL 2-5