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Why 3 Control Towers At DFW  
User currently offlineRogueTrader From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (13 years 2 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 4750 times:

I have a question as to why there are 3 control towers at DFW. The (few) other airports that are busier seem to get by with one. Are they all active? At all times? Does it really contribute to safety? Isn't it a source of confusion/mistakes?

12 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineTom in NO From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 7194 posts, RR: 32
Reply 1, posted (13 years 2 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 4702 times:

The original 1974 tower is the one in the middle of the terminal complex. Until somewhat recently, it remained the only one. Due to increased traffic, airport expansion, cramped space in the existing tower, and distant sight lines, it was decided to split up the operation, and put two towers on the far sides of the two sets of parallel runways.

With the airspace configuration at DFW, this is what made the most sense. The two towers operate independantly of each other (linked by land-lines when the need arises).

I do believe, though, that during the late night, when there is not a great deal of traffic, that the middle tower is used, and the other two are closed.

Tom in NO (at MSY)

"The criminal ineptitude makes you furious"-Bruce Springsteen, after seeing firsthand the damage from Hurricane Katrina
User currently offlineJohnnybgoode From Germany, joined Jan 2001, 2187 posts, RR: 6
Reply 2, posted (13 years 2 weeks 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 4672 times:

i once heard that one of the towers was exclusively operating AA´s flights. however, i find this highly unlikely since that would certainly be confusing since AA´s aircraft are not concentrating on just two or three runways.
so, does anyone if this is true or not????


If only pure sweetness was offered, why's this bitter taste left in my mouth.
User currently offlineBaec777 From United States of America, joined Oct 1999, 1231 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (13 years 2 weeks 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 4618 times:

The 3 towers right now as the 1974 current center tower really for the terminals while the other 2 other tower(East & West) controls for the runways. Sometimes the center tower cant get a closer look to the runways when there are possible accidents/mechanical problems with jets on a runway.

Thats my only guess, prove me if Im wrong.


User currently offlineDoug From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 858 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (13 years 2 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 4594 times:

none of the 2 busier airports have the land mass that DFW has.7 runways with an eighth one on the way.You can fit LAX,MIA,and DTW into DFW.

User currently offlineBlink182 From United States of America, joined Oct 1999, 5492 posts, RR: 15
Reply 5, posted (13 years 2 weeks 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 4540 times:


American does not have it's own exclusive control tower. However, they do have their own ramp-control tower which is located between terminals A and C.
Here is a photo of it.

Click for large version
Click here for full size photo!

Photo © Brian Peters


Give me a break, I created this username when I was a kid...
User currently offlineBA From United States of America, joined May 2000, 11154 posts, RR: 58
Reply 6, posted (13 years 2 weeks 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 4527 times:

Like Baec777 mentioned, the tower in the terminal complex is for controling traffic in and out of the terminal area. While the other 2 are for the runway.

A similar situation in Denver.

Infact, DEN has 4 towers. A main one north of Concourse C which controls all the landings and take-off.

Click for large version
Click here for full size photo!

Photo © DIAspotter

Now the other 3 towers are "mini" towers which is used to tell the aircraft where to go and where the gate location is.

There is a "mini" tower above the center of EACH concourse. Denver has 3 concourses, so there are 3 "mini" towers. You can see them here:

On the far right:

Click for large version
Click here for full size photo!

Photo © AirNikon

Right behind the British Airways 777:

Click for large version
Click here for full size photo!

Photo © Søren Geertsen

There are several other airports in the world with these "mini" towers.


"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need." - Khalil Gibran
User currently offlineATA L1011 From United States of America, joined Feb 2001, 1399 posts, RR: 6
Reply 7, posted (13 years 2 weeks 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 4518 times:

The AA control tower deal is false, but to add to blink182 Delta has their own small ramp tower as well for terminal E.

Treat others as you expect to be treated!
User currently offlineJsnww81 From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 2143 posts, RR: 15
Reply 8, posted (13 years 2 weeks 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 4502 times:

The two new towers were commissioned in the early 1990s, in anticipation of the opening of two jet runways. The eastside runway (17L-35R) opened in 1996. It is quite distant from the central tower and the view of it is blocked by Delta's maintenance complex.

The proposed westside runway, which will hopefully break ground soon, presents a similar situation. Controllers in the central tower would find their view of the proposed runway completely obscured by the American hangars and the air cargo buildings. Hence the new towers.

In addition to the central tower and two main towers, there is also the AA ground control tower, and Terminals A, C and E all have their own ramp towers as well.

This is nothing new at large airports. Back in the early 1970s Love Field had ramp towers on the East and West Concourses, and the old Atlanta terminal (which closed in 1980) had three smaller towers as well.

User currently offlineHlywdCatft From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 5321 posts, RR: 6
Reply 9, posted (13 years 2 weeks 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 4459 times:

DTW (Detroit) has three towers. One is the main tower near the midfield that is used for the main ATC operations. The old control tower on the Smith Terminal is still used, but by Wayne County and Operations. Northwest has a pretty good sized tower too on the Midfield terminal.

User currently offlineRogueTrader From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (13 years 2 weeks 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 4456 times:

Is everyone clear hear? There are 3 active FAA control towers at DFW, this is in addition to a few mini towers located at the terminal buildings.

Mainly, I was just wondering how they do it: like does the center tower handle ground and ground only, or what? Also, when I've been spotting/listening at DFW it seems that planes fairly often change landing runways at the last minute (by their own request) without having to change tower frequencies. Furthermore, it seems the East side is a lot more active than the West side, so is the West side tower just for losers, or what?



User currently offlineBacardi182 From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 1091 posts, RR: 1
Reply 11, posted (13 years 2 weeks 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 4442 times:

I thought that only one tower was used at a time but they switch during the day because of sun conditions. For example the east tower will be used in the morning so as to have the sun at the controlers back while they can see the whole airport in front of them. I know for a fact that during some times of the day there is at least one tower that is closed.

User currently offlineJhooper From United States of America, joined Dec 2001, 6206 posts, RR: 11
Reply 12, posted (13 years 2 weeks 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 4422 times:

Here's what I understand: The main east complex (17C/35C, 17R/35L) are controlled by the east tower on 125.55, and ground control is handled on 121.65. The far east runways (17L/35R, 13L/31R) have a separate tower frequency but still use the east tower. The main west complex (18L/36R, 18R/36L) are controlled from the west tower on 124.15. I'm told that at night they move the main operation to the central tower because they would have to stare into bright lights from the terminals if they used the east and west towers.

Last year 1,944 New Yorkers saw something and said something.
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