BizWest editor and publisher Chris Wood joined KUNC host Michael Lyle Monday to discuss the stoppage of construction on a new remote air traffic control tower at Northern Colorado Regional Airport.
The airport has been working for years to develop a more cost-efficient tower that would match the operational, safety and efficiency benefits of a traditional one.
Wood told KUNC the Colorado Department of Transportation was onboard with the concept, but the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was not.
“The FAA does have an ongoing review system in place for this project,” said Wood. “However, the contractor for the Northern Colorado regional system, Searidge Technologies, said they were withdrawing in part because of a stop work order from the FAA as they imposed new safety and visibility requirements on the system.”
Wood added that the delay has contributed to a decline in airline services from major carriers, such as Allegiant and Avelo.
“It does appear highly unlikely that the airport will be able to attract and maintain regularly-scheduled passenger service without either a physical tower or a remote air traffic control system,” Wood said.
Meanwhile, construction began over the summer on a $22-million, federally-funded terminal building. $2 million of those funds are coming from airport reserves and another $2 million are coming from Fort Collins and Loveland. The building will include new ticketing counters, security check points and rental car offices. It’s slated to open in the fall of 2024.
“The airport has a near $300 million economic impact, which allows for it to support more than 1,000 jobs,” said Wood. “So, along with the new terminal building, these are big issues for the airport to resolve.”
Wood added the state remains committed to resolving the issue to have the tower and the terminal building operating in the next two or three years.