New tinted windows 'shades' light on tower

  • Published
  • By Capt. Patricia Hyland
  • 376th Expeditionary Operation Support Squadron
Air traffic controllers here now have a clearer view of commercial and military operations, thanks to the installation of new glass and lighting in the control tower.

Base engineers accomplished the final inspection and accepted the work July 23 on more than $41,000 in upgrades.
Previously, Kyrgyz controllers and American liaisons struggled with aging glass that distorted their vision. Additionally, glare caused by high-intensity fluorescent lighting also challenged controllers trying to keep a watchful eye on the taxiways, ramps and runways.

Controllers no longer struggle to see through new tinted windows designed to provide less glare and no distortions. Other glare-reducing improvements include replacing white reflective ceiling tiles with black tiles, installing small spot lights with dimmers, adding dark countertops and dulling high-gloss window seals.

These changes minimize reflective light inside the tower cab and the effort has paid off, according to Vince McCoy, a U.S. Air Force contract tower liaison, who has worked at Manas more than three years.

"The new windows are a big improvement over what we had in the past," said Mr. McCoy. "The aircraft would appear to jump from one pane glass to the next when viewed through the old windows. These new windows are nice and clear."

Oleg Pantenkov, a tower controller for 14 years, also said the changes are noticeable. 

"Visibility is much better," he said.

The Air Force, Kyrgyz aviation officials and local contractors have been working together to make improvements. Other upgrades included soft yellow airfield lights, totaling around $50,000, which local electricians installed to replace the bright white ramp lights. 

Additionally, 376th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron electricians mounted shields on lights at 24-hour work centers, such as the air terminal operations center, to deflect direct light away from the tower.

Another initiative underway is to install cameras to help extend the viewing area for the controllers. Structures, trees and other obstacles restrict being able to observe parts of the airfield. 

Approximately $40,000 worth of cameras and equipment soon will be installed to create a closed-circuit television capability for the area. Kyrgyz controllers in the tower will be able to control each camera to scan the airfield for any traffic.

All of these new upgrades continue to improve the controllers' ability to observe traffic on and around the airfield, helping enhance flight safety.

Lt. Col Randall Reed, 376th Expeditionary Operations Group commander, stresses the improvements are the result of close coordination and strong relationships between Kyrgyz and Air Force Airmen.

"Flight safety transcends language and nationality," said Lt. Col. Reed. "Our partnership is a win-win for everyone involved." 

Comment on this story (comments may be published on Air Force Link)

Click here to view the comments/letters page