Air traffic control tower opens at Onslow County airport

ONSLOW COUNTY, NC (WITN) - More flights and safer air traffic is coming to one Eastern Carolina airport thanks to a new air traffic control tower.

Albert Ellis Airport in Onslow County opened the new tower Tuesday morning.

Commercial airports are not required to have a control tower, but they do allow for safer travel and the ability to have more frequent arrivals and departures.

The $5.7 million facility was paid with a combination of state and federal grants, according to county officials.

"Keeping the airplanes apart is the main function of an air traffic control tower," said airport director Chris White. "Whether they’re above the clouds or close to the ground, so these air traffic towers have to control that to make sure that everyone is spaced out properly, so airplanes getting too close together could create a problem.”

Officials say the new control tower will also help the local economy by bringing more people into the county for travel.

Planning for the new tower has been in the works for the past ten years.