The air traffic control tower at Orlando International Airport, standing 345 feet tall, was North America’s tallest ATCT when it opened on Sunday, September 15, 2002. Today, the tower is the 15th tallest ATCT in the world.
Designed by Radian International LLC and constructed by Hensel Phelps in conjunction with FAA designers, work on the $28.7 million project began in February 2000.
The tower replaced the 206 foot tower that was built in the early 1980s. The new tower allowed OIA to expand because air traffic controllers could see further from their higher vantage point. After the expansion, Orlando International Airport became one of the busiest airports in the United States.
In April 2021, the windows at the top of the tower where the air traffic controllers work, had to be replaced at the cost of $1.2 million dollars. Each of the sixteen 7 x 7 foot glass panes weighs 1000 pounds, requiring a crane to remove and reinstall the windows!
George Edward Johnson, Jr., FAA design engineer, assisted in the design of the ATCT in Orlando, Memphis, Miami, and Denver, to name a few. He was also the lead design engineer for the new Hartsfield Jackson Air Traffic Control Tower completed in 2006, ranked the 5th tallest in the world.
Johnson graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1972 with a degree in Civil Engineering. He worked for the US Forest Service after college, before working for the FAA. He also worked for Russell Craig & Associates for a few years beginning in 1975. He returned to the FAA and retired from the FAA in 2009.
George Johnson, Jr. was born on May 24, 1949 in Newnan, Georgia and passed away on March 27, 2015 in Hoschton, Georgia. Mr. Johnson’s family donated the architect’s rendering of the tower for this post.