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Sydney air traffic control tower to receive life-extending overhaul

written by Jake Nelson | February 12, 2024

Sydney Airport’s air traffic control tower, as seen from Shep’s Mound lookout. (Image: Jake Nelson)

Airservices Australia will upgrade the air traffic control tower at Sydney Airport, extending its longevity.

The overhaul is not expected to cause any disruption to ATC services, and will involve life extension on the tower’s infrastructure as well as upgrading internal facilities into a “modern workspace”, Airservices says.

Works will include upgrades to power and water supplies; refurbishments to the cabin, stand-down rooms and breakout rooms; new ground-floor meeting rooms; and replacement of structural elements such as roofing and cladding.

“Every component and system that goes into a building has a life span, and we are very conservative with our life spans,” said Chris Chapman, OneSKY and aerospace infrastructure program director at Airservices Australia.

“We’re going to refresh now just to prevent obsolescence issues with equipment, but also, while we’re replacing the equipment, we’ve taken the opportunity to do due diligence on the structure itself and inspections of such elements as the roofing systems.”


Chapman said that while the structure itself is “perfectly sound”, the upgrades will add 15 to 20 years of life to the Sydney control tower.

“Beyond sustaining our bricks and mortar assets, this upgrade also enables us to modernise our facilities to provide a more contemporary workspace for our team of people who keep the travelling public safe every day,” he said.

“Rest assured that upgrade works will go by largely unnoticed by air travellers. Aircraft will continue to be guided safely to and from Sydney airport by our expert team of air traffic controllers throughout the upgrade.”

He added that noisier works will be more likely to happen during Sydney Airport’s overnight curfew to minimise disruption to air traffic controllers.

“We’re quite experienced in working in these operational environments and we are very, very keen and proactive with engaging with the tower controllers and managing their expectations and managing the controllers themselves so there’s no surprises,” he said.

“We don’t want to surprise anybody with carrying out noisy works they’re not expecting, so every week we sit down with the tower managers and we work through the planned works ahead that week, and then every day we sit down with the controllers on each shift and work through the plans and works that we’re going to carry out that day.”

The works are expected to be complete by September next year.

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