Tulsa Airport Traffic Controllers Hard At Work In Temporary Tower

Monday, June 29th 2015, 6:12 pm
By: News On 6

A mobile control tower at Tulsa's International Airport is up and running after concerns about toxic fumes prompted an evacuation last week of the permanent Control tower.

The main tower is shut down, and because the temporary tower is so close to the ground and controllers can't see as far, two runways are closed.

The good news is that, even with the temporary tower in place, controllers don't expect any flights to be delayed.

Any plane that comes in and out of TIA is required to talk with an air traffic controller in the control tower, but right now nobody is up in the tower because controllers are closer to the ground, inside a modified trailer.

Last week the main tower, perched more than 100-feet in the air, was evacuated.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the trouble started when a contractor used a chemical to remove asbestos tiles in the tower. The solvent created toxic fumes, forcing controllers and workers to abandon the tower.

6/24/2015 Related Story: Fumes, Air Testing Force Two Evacuations Of Tulsa Airport Tower

Two controllers and a manager had to get oxygen from firefighters.

Concerns over the fumes prompted the FAA to send controllers the portable tower.

When the main tower went down, they immediately trailered the temporary one from Kansas City. It took less than 24-hours to get the controllers back on air.

Controllers don't believe passengers will notice any delays or changes in the way they travel.

"We're running very efficiently. Hopefully, this is seamless to the public. Our goal is so they don't know something is going on so we can just continue operations and press on," said Air Traffic Manager, Josh Rogers.

Controller, Jason Perkins said, "What they [passengers] need to know is that they are 100 percent safe, and we do everything we can to keep them safe."

Controllers inside the temporary tower can still talk to every plane and give pilots the right instructions.

"It's a little different, you know we got to get used to it, but like I said, we're highly trained, we're highly skilled professionals," Perkins said.

He said his colleagues are up to the challenge.

"Controllers are very versatile, and you task them with something, they'll get it done," Perkins said.

The FAA hired a contractor to analyze the air quality in the control tower to check for the fumes, mold and asbestos.

6/25/2015 Related Story: Air Quality Testing Continues At Tulsa International After Fumes Detected

Once the air quality data is back, the FAA will make the determination on when it's safe to re-enter the main tower.