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Bend’s airport closer to getting a control tower

Bend airport
File photo
City of Bend
The Bend Municipal Airport is the busiest airport in the state without an air traffic control tower.

The City of Bend says a new state grant will go toward building a control tower at its municipal airport.

No airlines fly there—commercial service is available at Redmond's airport, about 20 miles north of Bend.

But the general aviation facility in Bend is the third busiest public airport in the state, when measured by takeoffs and landings. That's due in part to corporate business traffic, and also to a robust pilot training program at Central Oregon Community College.

The Bend airport is also the busiest airport in Oregon without an air traffic control tower. Hundreds of planes take off or land each day without the benefit of air traffic controllers.

“Air traffic control towers help expedite air traffic, provide for safe separation of aircraft operating in the area and on the ground,” said Bend Airport manager Tracy Williams.

The $4.8 million state grant will cover about two-thirds of the cost of the tower. If the city can secure federal funding, the project could be done by 2025.

The final design and location of the tower has not been finalized, but Williams says it could stand nearly 100 feet tall. She said choosing the best site for the tower is critical, "so that the air traffic controllers can have a 360-degree panoramic view of the entire airport and the entire airspace surrounding it with no dead spots."

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”