US FAA sends temporary ATC tower to Haiti

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The US FAA has responded to a request from the Haitian government to dispatch a portable air traffic control tower to Haiti to help with aircraft operations at Port au Prince International airport.

Haiti is still recovering from a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck the country on 12 January, which rendered the airport tower unusable.

FAA says the portable tower is being transported on a large chartered cargo aircraft, and agency technicians will install and prepare it for service, which should take 48h.

The tower is 44ft (13m) long, 4m (13ft) high and 2m (8ft) wide with weight of 11,350kg (25,000lb), says the US Department of Transportation (DOT). It features two diesel fuel tanks and tools and other support equipment for installation and maintenance.

In the aftermath of the disaster FAA sent a seven member team to Haiti to work with its government and the US Department of Defense to supply technical assistance for air traffic management.

Since the earthquake controllers supplying terminal air traffic control services have worked outside at a folding table, says DOT, using military radios to handle 160 flights per day.

Tower controllers provide service to arriving and departing flights in the immediate area of the airport, and serve as ground controllers for movements on the airport's surface.

DOT says the FAA also has an airports division team on the ground to evaluate the physical condition of the runway at Port au Prince as it handles high volumes of heavy military transport and cargo aircraft.