Feds send air traffic control tower to Irma-hit St. Thomas

Feds send air traffic control tower to Irma-hit St. Thomas
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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) shipped an emergency air traffic control tower to St. Thomas on Wednesday after Hurricane Irma tore through the Caribbean.

The existing tower at Cyril E. King International Airport in St. Thomas, one of the U.S. Virgin Islands, sustained significant damage, forcing controllers to manage air traffic from a tent on the airfield for several days.

The FAA airlifted a mobile tower to the island on Wednesday morning equipped with an engine generator, air conditioner, four radios and instruments to measure barometric pressure, wind speed and direction.

The agency also deployed an airport certification inspector to ensure that the airport is safe before air carrier operations resume.

“He is working closely with the Virgin Islands Port Authority to ensure that its operation is stabilized, airport safety procedures are in place, all hazards are mitigated and the airport is fully compliant with federal regulations, so recovery efforts can expand and continue,” the FAA said.

The tower is now fully operational and is supporting relief efforts by the U.S. military, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, general aviation and limited commercial flights, according to the agency.