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LAFAYETTE

PURDUE UNIVERSITY

AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL TOWER

 

Brought to you by

NATCA LOCAL LAF

 

       LAF ATCT Purdue University Airport Tower 

 

Tower Construction

 

In January 1966, the Purdue Board of Trustees is notified that a study is underway to determine the feasibility of construction of a control tower at the airport, to be funded 100% by the US government. In order to receive such funding, it is determined that the airport must be declared a "public airport".

 

On March 2nd, 1966, the Purdue Board of Trustees votes unanimously to adopt a detailed and lengthy resolution declaring among other things, the airport to be a "public airport". The resolution will take effect only after the Federal Aviation Agency notifies Purdue in writing, the federal government will install a control tower at the airport with federal funds.

 

In August 1969, the Purdue Board of Trustees approved submission to FAA the proposal and application for grant of funds for construction and maintenance of a control tower with an associated ATC training facility. In addition, the board proposes that the university develop a 2 year, and later a 4 year Air Traffic Control training program, to help train the 4000+ per year controllers that are estimated by the FAA to be hired over the next 10 years.

 

In the fall of 1969, a temporary FAA tower is placed at Purdue University Airport for 3 home football games, September 27th (Notre Dame), October 18th (Iowa), and November 8th (Michigan State). It is not known if temporary towers were used in later years.

 

In January 1970, representatives from FAA and other relevant personnel meet to plan and discuss the location of a new control tower, and three locations are identified. 1. The south side of the airport where a tower would be 38' high but require a new road and utility lines. 2, a 68' tower immediately southwest of hanger 4. 3, The far southwest corner of the airport. In addition, the department of transportation has rejected Purdue's Proposal to build a tower and training facility. However, there is a good prospect that construction of a regular control tower funded by the US government will begin in 1971. The board expresses pleasure that construction of a tower is imminent.

 

In September 1970, the Purdue Board of Trustees is notified that construction of the tower will be paid for by the FAA, and will require a staff of 9 controllers. In addition, site 2, immediately southwest of hanger 4, is the location for the new tower, and will cost the least amount of money to complete, about $200,000.

 

In March 1971, the Purdue Board of Trustees is notified that construction of the FAA control tower is delayed by the FAA until spring 1972 due to revised bidding procedures.

 

In January 1972, the Purdue Board of Trustees approved the creation of a lease to the US government of .29 acres for the purposes of constructing a control tower.

 

In April 1972, the Purdue Board of Trustees is notified that FAA has awarded contracts to construct the new control tower, construction is to begin in March of 1973, for a cost of $200,000, to be paid for by the federal government. However, construction of runways and taxiways must be completed prior to the tower construction.

 

In September 1972, the Purdue Board of Trustees is notified that construction of the tower will begin in October 1972, and completion should be in February or March of 1973.

 

On October 30th, 1972, the airport runway construction is nearly completed, and the runways are opened, clearing the way for tower construction.

 

By November 8th 1972, construction of the FAA control tower had begun.

 

                                                     

 

Facility Description:
LAF Tower
is the only FAA staffed, nonapproach control tower without radar, in the United States. LAF works the 2nd largest number of tower operations in Indiana, approximately 113,864 take off and landings annually, and we're ranked 174th out of 503 towers  , for annual aircraft operations. However, due to our lack of air carrier passenger implements, our ATC facility level is ATC4.

 

The tower was completed in 1973. In 1998 responsibility for IFR non-radar approaches was transferred from Lafayette Tower Non-Radar approach control to Chicago Center. In Late 2010, approach control responsibilities were assumed by Grissom Tracon. However, the tower is still operating non-radar, and responsible for initial separation of IFR aircraft. As you can see by the picture, our tower is 6 stories tall. The tower has a great view of the Purdue Campus, and West Lafayette.

 

The bulk of the traffic at Lafayette is from student pilots, learning to fly at Purdue University's flight school. Purdue has over 20 aircraft, and most of them depart, and return every 2 hours starting at 7:30AM when the school is in session. The university also has a number of higher performance aircraft, and will routinely practice making instrument approaches to the airport. It's not uncommon to have 10-15 practice approaches an hour during the fall and spring semesters. Tower personnel do not provide separation services to VFR aircraft conducting practice approaches, but we do provide traffic advisories to the maximum extent possible.

 

The local Fixed base operator, Lafayette Aviation, also generates a considerable amount of traffic at the airport. They have many student pilots, transient aircraft, and corporate business jets such as Gulfstreams, Citations, Challengers, etc. Lafayette Aviation provides also line service, aircraft maintenance, and sells fuel.

 

Unfortunately, there are no commercial air carriers serving Lafayette. The last commercial carrier, with service between Lafayette and St. Louis, pulled out in 2005. The airport has a terminal building that is currently unused. We have an air ambulance service that operates from the field.

 

Things get a little busy around the airport when the Purdue Boilermakers Football team host Big Ten home games. The Ross-Ade Stadium seats more than 65,0000 fans, some of which fly-in to root on the boilermakers!

 

Performance:

According to 2007 data, out of all FAA facilities, Lafayette Tower is ranked #29 for lowest cost per operation at $10.74 per take-off or landing, and #53 for total operations worked per controller, with each CPC working 14,329 operations annually.

 

Total Tower Operations (Indiana):

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

Indianapolis

170,116

Indianapolis

174,987

Indianapolis

199,188

Indianapolis

203,616

Indianapolis

212,020

Indianapolis

224,187

Lafayette

96,801

Lafayette

100,970

Lafayette

105,934

Lafayette

112,890

Lafayette

115,733

Lafayette

115,242

Evansville

68,440

Evansville

77,857

Evansville

78,074

Evansville

68,267

Fort Wayne

75,652

Terre Haute

80,930

Terre Haute

60,561

Fort Wayne

58,233

Fort Wayne

70,007

Fort Wayne

66,270

Terre Haute

69,015

Fort Wayne

78,951

Fort Wayne

44,485

Terre Haute

42,709

Terre Haute

52,739

Terre Haute

56,598

Evansville

65,899

Evansville

67,727

Gary

39,646

Gary

42,559

South Bend

47,344

South Bend

51,225

South Bend

58,971

South Bend

64,639

Columbus

38,465

South Bend

41,009

Columbus

42,419

Columbus

37,408

Columbus

41,553

Gary

45,741

South Bend

37,780

Columbus

40,909

Bloomington

33,987

Gary

35,601

Gary

40,362

Columbus

35,937

Bloomington

26,727

Bloomington

26,522

Gary

33,570

Bloomington

32,573

Bloomington

33,950

Bloomington

34,575

Muncie

24,337

Muncie

22,805

Muncie

24,258

Muncie

26,198

Muncie

26,428

Muncie

31,297

 *DOD towers not listed.