MANCHESTER, N.H. -- First a new name, now a new tower.
Air traffic controllers at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport say a 160-foot control tower opening in September will clear sight lines to all 15 terminal gates. At present, controllers say, views to 10, or two-thirds, of those gates from the airport's 80-foot tower are obstructed.
The tower is not legally required to provide a view to those areas, where planes push back and taxi to the runways, but ''it's going to be a big advantage to see the whole airport and what everyone is doing," said air traffic controller Brian Dubois.
The $7.7 million tower is part of an airport overhaul plan that included a new 2,250-foot runway, runway lighting, an instrument landing system, and digital airfield equipment to help pilots navigate their approach, said Bob Faherty, a project manager for the Federal Aviation Administration.
Controllers said a new tower means no more space heaters to stay warm, and no more buckets to catch leaks from the 35-year-old tower's roof during a rainstorm. Project engineer Jennifer Schaub said the new tower will be the only one in New England with radiant floor heating.
The airport had a record 4.5 million passengers last year, about 65 percent coming from outside New Hampshire. The airport generates more than $1 billion in economic activity, said airport manager Kevin Dillon.