Manchester Airport’s new 20 million control tower is complete

25 June 2013

The new 20 million air traffic control tower at Manchester Airport has officially been completed and will be operational later this week. The official opening ceremony took place today on the 75th anniversary of the opening of Manchester Airport.

The new tower stands at a proud 60 metres tall, making it the second tallest air traffic control tower in the UK. Manchester Airport announced plans to build the new control tower in February 2011 and construction began shortly afterwards. The existing control tower at the airport has been operational since 1962 and will now be decommissioned.

The tower structure commenced construction in March 2012 with final works ending in June 2013. NATS, the UK’s leading air traffic control company, has installed the latest technology in the tower to enable controllers to continue to provide a safe and efficient service for the 170,000 aircraft movements at the airport this year. NATS staff have been undergoing a three-month training programme to familiarise themselves with operations in the new tower ahead of the transition.

The new control tower is now the second largest in the UK with Heathrow’s tower being the tallest. During construction, it took just nine days to complete the 60 metre shaft that would be the centrepiece of the tower. The construction teams, led by contractor Morgan Sindall, poured concrete continuously for 222 hours – from the morning of Tuesday 13th March 2012 to the early evening of Thursday 22nd March - at an average rate of 27cm an hour. This method of pouring concrete into a continuously moving form is known as ‘slipform’ and is the same construction technique that was used to construct the famous CN Tower in Toronto. Approximately 600 cubic metres of concrete and 65 tons of steel reinforcement were cast to form the nine-metre wide shaft.

The new tower has 360-degree panoramic views around Greater Manchester and into Cheshire, providing a much improved structure than the existing tower. It will also house some of the most modern equipment on the market with more than 70 different systems having been installed into the new tower including radar processors, plasma touch displays, electronic flight progress strips (EFPS) and communications equipment.

Andrew Cowan, Chief Operating Officer for MAG, owners of Manchester Airport, said: “We are delighted with the new control tower and pleased that it officially opens as we celebrate our 75th year of operation. It’s a fitting moment for us and demonstrates our continued investment in Manchester Airport, and this will be our most significant development in the airport this year.

“It also follows previous investments made such as the 10 million upgrade for the airfield in 2010 so we could prepare for the arrival of the Emirates A380 and the complete refurbishment of runway one in 2011. The new tower provides facilities suitable for a 21st century airfield and has further strengthened our great relationship with NATS, with whom we have worked together to create an iconic building, in a secure unit next to the airfield.”

The new control tower houses an approach radar and navigation section, surveillance and communications equipment while the base of the building houses new offices and an equipment centre. The control tower provides unrivalled views of the entire airfield operation from its new location. From its previous position on the top of an office above Terminal 1, cameras were needed by controllers to assist with the views to the furthest end of Runway 2.

NATS Manchester General Manager Paul Jones said: “The transition to full operations from the new Manchester tower later this week will be the culmination of a long project to enhance still further the service we are able to provide to Manchester Airport, the airlines and the thousands of people that fly into and out of this airport every year.

“We are really excited to be moving into our new home which, with its height and position on the airfield, together with the technology at our disposal, will enable us to provide the very best service for the airport and its passengers.”

NATS will manage the equipment and run the tower’s 24-hour operation while Manchester Airport will own and maintain the building.

Manchester Airport is the global gateway for the North of the UK and the largest airport outside London with over 200 destinations served by 65 airlines. For more information about flights from the airport, visit:


For more information, contact the Manchester Airport press office on 0161 489 2700 or email and for more information about NATS call 01489 615945 or

Published on: 25/06/2013 11:46:40