FAA Airlifts Temporary Tower To St. Thomas
With the tower at Cyril E. King International Airport in St. Thomas severely damaged by Hurricane Irma, controllers had been left to do their jobs from a tent on the airfield for several days. On Wednesday morning, the FAA activated a mobile control tower that had been flown in on a U.S. Air Force C-17 from Boise, Idaho. The FAA is flying personnel in from San Juan, Puerto Rico, each day to keep the facility staffed with fresh controllers. “The tower was fully operational at 9:40 a.m. [Wednesday] morning and is now supporting relief flights by the U.S. military, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, general aviation and limited commercial flights,” says the FAA.
The mobile tower was delivered with its custom trailer and a truck to unload and position it. The system includes a generator, air conditioning, four radios and basic meteorological measuring equipment to generate terminal weather information. The FAA reports that “the tower arrived in St. Thomas at 6:15 a.m. and was fully operational in three hours and 25 minutes.”
An FAA airport certification safety inspector has also been flown into St. Thomas to approve a return to regular air carrier operations. “He is working closely with the Virgin Islands Port Authority to ensure that its operation is stabilized, airport safety procedures are in place, all hazards are mitigated and the airport is fully compliant with federal airport safety regulations, so recovery efforts can expand and continue,” says the FAA.