The official inauguration of the new control tower has commenced at Katowice Airport
On October 20, 2019, the Polish Air Navigation Agency commenced the official inauguration of the new control tower at Katowice Airport. At 46 metres high, the construction is taller than other control towers in Poland. It has been made sure during the development process that future employees working at the object will have access to cutting-edge technology, thanks to which handling air traffic and providing safety will be considerably easier.
The need for a new tower derives from the dynamical expansion of Katowice Airport's infrastructure, which has been successfully realized by The Upper Silesian Aviation Group (GTL SA) since 2007. As part of the first - completed in 2018 - stage of the investment, projects collectively worth over 690 million PLN have been realized. In addition to the construction of the new, 3 200 metres long runway, completed has been, to list only, the construction of a passenger terminal C, cargo terminal, and maintenance hangar. As a result of the completed stage of the investment, the airport area surface increased from 330 000 m2 to 800 000 m2.
Only in 2018, Katowice Airport handled 4,84 million passengers and 18 500 tons of cargo, while aircrafts performed 41 000 operations. It is interesting to note that the airport managed to double the numbers since the beginning of the first part of the investment. Current requisitions and projects, planned till 2025 as part of the airport's expansion, make a new control tower necessary in order for the airport to properly function.
Before the new control tower will begin operating on its own, however, it is scheduled to function in the so-called "shadow mode" for the next couple of weeks. Consequently, there will actually be two working towers at Katowice Airport: the new one, and the old one. The latter will hold a temporary crew in case of an emergency. The new construction will officially become the main control tower at Katowice Airport only when its functionality will be thoroughly tested. It is scheduled to become fully operational during the second half of November.
The new control tower at Katowice Airport is actually the fourth in the airport's history. The first object used to handle air traffic was built in 1978 by the Polish People's Army. The tower functioned continuously for many years till 1999; up until then, mainly military air traffic controllers who have been trained in civil procedures worked there. It is interesting to note that standard air traffic controllers also worked in the building, but only during the last years of its functionality.
The construction of the second tower - the one scheduled to close after 18 years - was ordered in 1999 by the precursor of the Polish Air Navigation Agency, namely: the Air Traffic Agency of the ‘Polish Airports’ State Enterprise. At 23 metres high - exactly twice as short as the new tower - the object handled over 475 000 operations at Katowice Airport. In the meantime, 42 million passengers were transported.