Improvements Make Ben Gurion Airport One of Safest, Most Modern in World

Improvements at Ben Gurion Airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv, make it one of the safest and most modern airports in the world, according to Arieh Grozbord, chairman of the Israel Airports Authority.

A major advance was the replacement of the old control tower, dating back nearly 50 years, when there was virtually no commercial air traffic, by a new 164-foot high tower containing the newest and most sophisticated equipment. In the old tower, the equipment was 30 years old.

Now, a long range radar, a computer terminal and computerized communications systems enable air traffic controllers to track aircraft at a distance of 165 miles — about 20 minutes flying time from the airport — and to reduce the distance separating them from 9.9 to 4.9 miles while maintaining the same margin of safety. This means more aircraft can land within a given time frame.

The only problem that remains unsolved is the constant noise of arriving and departing jets which has residents of the densely populated area around the airport up in arms. Night operations have been restricted because of the noise problem but complaints persist.

Aviation experts say Israel must soon make a long delayed decision to build a new international airport far from populated areas if it is to cope with the expected increase in air traffic in the next century.

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