Palm Springs Tower As An Economic Issue

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Advocates for a new tower at Palm Springs International Airport in California say it's needed not only for safety, but also to ensure that business and tourism continue to grow in the area. In an editorial in The Desert Sun on Sunday, the newspaper said airplanes have nearly collided at the airport once every four months during the last year, and one reason is that the control tower is too short. The tower, built in 1967, sits in a gully, and controllers can't see to the ends of the runway. A new tower and new radar equipment would cost about $20 million. "Our $1 billion tourism industry is heavily dependent upon people flying here," the editorial says. "If our airport gains a bad reputation for safety, that's a mark against our ability to draw tourists and conventions." Fresh runway paint and improved signage at the airport already have improved safety, the Sun said. But as other airports have improved even more, Palm Springs continues to fall behind in safety rankings. A Sunday news story in The Sun examined in detail the airport's safety record, finding that "more than half" of collisions and crashes at the airport involve private pilots ... and also, of the 100,000-plus annual flights at the airport, 62 percent are driven by private pilots. Hmmm. Between 1983 and 2003, 23 accidents occurred at the airport, the Sun reported.