A new state of the art control tower is to be built at Birmingham Airport at a cost of £10 million.
Work on the new landmark building will start in May but it will be two years before it is operational because of the complexity of the new equipment being installed in it.
The new 115ft tower will be built on a 33ft high hill and will dominate the western side of the airport and be easily visible from the A45.
Once commissioned it will take over from the original control tower which is situated at the old Elmdon Airport site and has been in use since 1939.
The move from Elmdon to the current airport location took place in 1984 but use of the old 79ft high tower continued.
The new building will give air traffic controllers a better view over new buildings which have sprung up on the airport complex but more importantly will allow them to see to the end of the new 400-metre runway extension which it is ultimately hoped to build.
Will Heynes, the airport’s operation director, said the new control tower would feature the very latest state of the art equipment.
“We anticipate it will take a year to build but then a further year to install all the new equipment, commission it and train our air traffic controls in the use of it,” he said.
The airport is anxious to extend the runway in a bid to attract more airlines offering a wider choice of long-haul routes for Midland travellers.
Mr Heynes said the airport would be seeking ideas for the use of the old control tower when it was decommissioned.
“It’s a lovely 1930s Art Deco building which we are obliged to keep in its present form and we are looking for ideas for a new use for it.
“It’s a large building in a prime location with spectacular views and we are open to suggestions.”
The airport has just opened a new £1.3 million hi-tech control centre on the fifth floor of the Diamond House office block opposite the main airport building, combining the separate control centres of its engineering, baggage, terminal management, security and airfield operations in one unit.