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Construction begins on Sydney air traffic control tower upgrade

written by Jake Nelson | May 23, 2024

BESIX Watpac will lead the life extension upgrades on Sydney’s ATC tower. (Image supplied)

Airservices Australia has broken ground on life extension works for Sydney’s air traffic control tower.

The project, to be carried out by principal contractor BESIX Watpac, will modernise the tower’s infrastructure, with Airservices estimating it will add an extra two decades to the structure’s lifespan. Construction will continue in stages through next year.

Existing building systems will be upgraded and a new services building constructed, alongside security improvements, civil works, amenities and landscaping.

“Beyond sustaining our bricks and mortar assets, this upgrade enables us to modernise our facilities to provide a more contemporary workspace for the team of people who keep the travelling public safe every day,” said Greg Houghton, Airservices’ acting head of transformation for OneSKY and aerospace.

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


BESIX Watpac has worked on numerous other airport infrastructure projects in Australia, including Adelaide and Darwin’s terminal expansions, Brisbane Airport upgrades, and the experience centre at the future Western Sydney International Airport.

According to Mark Baker, CEO of BESIX Watpac, the firm places collaboration “at the heart” of its approach and “recognises the significance of working closely with all stakeholders to deliver the best possible project outcomes”.

“We are proud to bring our specialised expertise to the Airservices Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport Air Traffic Control Tower Life Extension project,” Baker said.

“With a proven track record in delivering exceptional airport infrastructure, we are committed to ensuring the success of this critical project for Airservices Australia.”

Speaking to Australian Aviation in February, Chris Chapman, OneSKY and aerospace infrastructure program director at Airservices Australia, said that while the structure is “perfectly sound”, the upgrades will add 15 to 20 years of life to the Sydney control tower.

“Every component and system that goes into a building has a life span, and we are very conservative with our life spans,” Chapman said.

“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.”

The works are expected to be completed by September 2025.

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