Anyone who travels to RDU regularly is familiar with the tall Air Traffic Control Tower that’s visible from just about anywhere at the airport. But, did you know there’s another tower that plays a crucial role in coordinating aircraft movements? In this edition of The Fives, we take you behind the scenes of RDU’s Resource Management Center, more commonly known as the Ramp Tower.
It handles a variety of functions ranging from directing your aircraft safely from the gate to the taxiway to making sure you arrive at the right bag claim carousel to retrieve your luggage.
One of the most important functions of a Ramp Tower controller is communication with pilots. The Air Traffic Control Tower directs the movements of planes while they are in the air, on the runways and on the taxiways.
The Ramp Tower guides their movements as they enter and exit the taxiways, on the area known as the ramp, where planes, vehicles and people meet.
A system of cameras gives them eyes on the gates on the opposite side of the building. Ramp controllers also assign gates based on the airlines’ requests and the volume of flights at the terminal. They also assign gates to diverted flights, even if the airline doesn’t operate from RDU.
They control the displays above the ticket counters and information displays in our behind-the-scenes areas. Also, they assign which flights will pick up bags on which bag claim carousels.
And, they coordinate directly with the various airlines’ operation centers to update the flight arrival and departure boards throughout the airport.
And, the Ramp Tower also assigns overnight parking spaces for commercial planes that stay at RDU throughout the night. And one final note, the Ramp Tower only oversees operations from Terminal 2. Southwest Airlines manages its own operations for Terminal 1, including its AirTran subsidiary.
Where are some places at the airport that you’d like to go behind the scenes? Tell me in the comments below!