PHL is likely to get a new FAA air traffic control tower

FAA Conrol tower at the Philadelphia International Airport, Monday, May 15, 2017. ( JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer ) *photograph was shoot through a glass window, there are some reflections evident.

Philadelphia International Airport wants to build a new Federal Aviation Administration air traffic control tower.

The $200 million tower could be situated where the cellphone waiting lot now is, a few hundred feet from the terminals. The current tower, on Hog Island Road, was built in the 1980s and is too small to handle today’s technology for directing planes in the air and on the ground.

Airport officials mentioned the new tower on a bus tour Monday of the airfield as part of Infrastructure Week. Former Gov. Ed Rendell joined Airports Council International president Kevin Burke and the airport’s CEO, Chellie Cameron, to talk about the need for $100 billion in funding over the next five years to revitalize the country’s airports.

The FAA is doing a siting study for the tower, which is being planned at the FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City. If it is built where the current 150-space cellphone lot is, the free parking area for people picking up travelers will be relocated, said Joseph Messina, deputy aviation director for regulatory affairs.

The timing for a new FAA tower to be sited, designed, and built is about five years, Messina said.

“The FAA prioritizes tower replacements based on facility condition and available funding,” the agency said in a statement. “Primarily, the FAA funds the replacements, but they can also be funded by airport sponsors with guidance and support from the FAA. We do not replace towers based on a standard age.”

The most recent airports to get new FAA towers are San Francisco, Tucson, Ariz., Las Vegas, and Cleveland, the FAA said.

A new tower at PHL could be financed through airport bonds or a mix of bonds, grants, and rates and charges paid by airlines. “We’re exploring all methodologies with the airlines and with FAA in partnership to try to come up with the best way to pay for it,” Messina said.

Airport staff on Monday showed off $200 million in taxiway improvements and a main east-west runway being lengthened from 10,500 feet to 12,000 feet. When completed, it will be one of the longest runways on the East Coast. An additional $20 million was spent on improvements to an aircraft deicing facility.