Merrill Field wins award


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The FAA has named the Merrill Field Control Tower the National Facility of the Year.

The tower staff serves Alaska’s second-busiest airport.

FAA officials called the staff’s performance nearly flawless, despite having to contend with complex air space that includes traffic from Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, military traffic from Elmendorf Air Force Base, Lake Hood Seaplane Base and a number of smaller airports all located with two miles of Merrill Field. In addition to serving medevac operations for the area’s two major hospitals, the tower also handles many student pilot operations, a major aspect of Merrill Field traffic.

The award was presented Aug. 22 by Bruce Johnson, FAA national director of air traffic operations.

Merrill Tower provided 174,971 services during 2002. The staff consists of one manager, one supervisor, 12 full performance controllers and two developmental controllers.

Merrill is Alaska’s busiest training facility with major flight schools on the field.

Between April and August the tower averages 20,184 operations per month.

Merrill’s urban location results in a frequently occurring pedestrian use of the field. Aggressive scanning by controllers prevented eight potential accidents in 2002.

The current air traffic control tower was dedicated in 1999, replacing a 37-year-old structure.