Jack Edwards National Airport (JKA) was notified this week that the FAA has accepted the airport as a candidate for the Federal Contract Tower Program. With this announcement JKA is now required to provide an acceptable facility within five years. Several FAA offices remarked that JKA set a record for the highest benefit cost ratio ever seen in the program’s history at 4.18. In English, this means that the benefits of the tower exceed the costs associated by a factor of 4.2. A ratio of 1.0 is required to be eligible.
The Gulf Shores Airport Authority actually begin design of the new tower 8 months ago in anticipation of the announcement by approving a $500,000 contract for the design phase in March 2019. This was followed by the application process with support from Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft and Council.
“Jack Edwards National Airport serves the thriving business and tourism market in Gulf Shores, South Baldwin County, and communities along the Alabama Gulf Coast,” Mayor Robert Craft said. “This full service airport is an outstanding asset creating jobs and diversification opportunities for new and existing businesses. Jack Edwards National Airport is vital to the development and continued economic growth of the area and provides a transportation hub for anyone traveling for business, recreation, and/or relaxation.”
JKA was able to facilitate FAA Air Traffic design and site selection reviews by volunteering to be a test case to allow the FAA to streamline its previous review method, which typically took six months. JKA set a record of two days with what is now referred to as the “Jack Edwards” process. Tower construction is slated to be complete toward the end of December of 2020 with commissioning in Jan-Feb 2021.
Scott B. Fuller