AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL TOWER (ATCT) SITING CRITERIA
A18.1. General Information. The Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT) is the focal point for flight
operations within the designated airspace of the installation and for controlling aircraft and vehicles on the
airport movement area. Locating and siting an ATCT is a complex procedure that involves many
operational and technical requirements. The tower cab must be correctly oriented. The area to be con-
trolled must be visible from the cab. The air traffic controller must have proper depth perception of the
area under surveillance, and there can be no electronic interference with equipment in the cab nor with
navigational equipment on the ground. For these considerations and other operational and technical
aspects of selecting a site, consult Air Force Flight Standards Agency, Engineering and Systems
Integration Branch (HQ AFFSA/XRE), 1535 Command Drive, Suite D309, Andrews AFB, MD 20762-
7002, in the early stages of planning. A site survey will be conducted to determine the best siting for the
proposed ATCT. For accurate planning and design considerations, the site survey should be conducted
within five years of the projected ATCT construction completion date. More specific architectural,
structural, mechanical, and electrical systems design requirements may be found in the Air Traffic Control
Tower Design Guide published by the Design Group Division at Headquarters, Air Force Center for
Environmental Excellence (HQ AFCEE/DCD), 8004 Arnold Drive, Brooks AFB TX 78235-5361.
A18.2. Siting Criteria. ATCT siting and height determination require sound engineering principles and
close coordination with the host base. Siting project engineers must consider factors that relate to the
economics of each candidate site, such as accessibility to utilities, subsoil and ground water conditions,
expansion possibilities, as well as selecting a site requiring a tower of the minimum height necessary to
meet the specific requirements. The following specific guidelines must be followed:
A18.2.1. The air traffic controllers operating this facility must have a clear, unobstructed, and direct
view to all operating positions of the airport traffic area; to the approach end of the primary instrument
runway; and all other active runways, taxiways, parking aprons, test pads, and similar areas. The
tower should be located close to runway midpoints and equidistant from other airfield areas to the
greatest extent possible.
A18.2.2. The site must provide sufficient area to accommodate the initial building and any planned
expansions, including vehicle parking, fuel storage tanks, and exterior transformers.
A18.2.3. Siting of the ATCT must meet explosives separation distance criteria in AFMAN 91-201.
A18.2.4. As a minimum, the site must conform to ground system and obstruction clearance criteria for
Category II Instrument Landing Operations (see Federal Aviation Administration Handbook (FAAH)
7110.65, Air Traffic Control, and AFI 11-230).
A18.2.5. The ATCT must be sited where it will not detract from the performance of existing or
planned electronic air navigational facilities (terminal very high frequency omnirange (TVOR), air-port
surveillance radar (ASR), and tactical air navigation (TACAN)). There are no criteria that establish
minimum distances from electronic air navigational facilities. However, the facilities most likely to be
affected are the TVOR, TACAN, and ASR. The ATCT should be no closer than 300 m (1,000 feet)
from these three facilities. Other electronic air navigation facilities (precision approach radar, ILS) are
not as likely to be affected because their usage is more directed along the runway's major axis.
However, care should be taken in siting the ATCT so it does not conflict with proper operation of these
A18.2.6. Sufficient depth perception of all surface areas to be controlled must be provided. This is the
ability to differentiate the number and type of grouped aircraft and ground vehicles and to observe their