FAA plans new tower at Suffolk airport

Published 10:22 pm Thursday, October 6, 2011

City Council members on Wednesday approved a lease of land at the Suffolk Executive Airport for a navigational tower.

The new tower will be located on about 625 square feet near the hangars at the airport. It is part of the Federal Aviation Administration’s NextGen project, which aims to convert the country’s aviation navigation system from a radar-based system to satellite-guided.

“We’re excited to provide this opportunity,” Kevin Hughes, the city’s economic development director, said at Wednesday’s meeting. “This is definitely a positive project for us.”


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The tower will provide navigational information for planes all over Hampton Roads, and it will be the only one in the area, Hughes said.

According to the FAA’s website, the NextGen project will make air travel more convenient, dependable, safe and environmentally friendly.

“NextGen is a comprehensive overhaul of our National Airspace System to make air travel more convenient and dependable, while ensuring your flight is as safe, secure and hassle-free as possible,” the website states.

Hughes said the tower would benefit Suffolk specifically, because their proximity to the tower means that local pilots will receive information almost instantaneously.

“Once you step into your plane and turn on the engine, you’ll receive that air traffic information immediately,” Hughes said. Planes from other locations might only receive it once they’re in the air, he said.

The tower will be about 100 feet tall at its highest point and will be painted in alternating orange and white stripes and have lights at the top, as required by the FAA. It will be erected by ITT Corporation.

Hughes said he believes the Suffolk airport was chosen, because “we rolled out the welcome mat for them.”

“I think they liked our airport,” he said. “They can access the tower without a whole lot of hassle.”