The Fives: Inside The Ramp Tower

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. 

DSC_0123Located high above the Terminal 2 concourse is the RDU Ramp Tower. Managed by TBI Airport Management, the Ramp Tower plays a crucial role in aiding in your travels.

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.

DSC_0129One 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. 

DSC_0139 The Ramp Tower controllers have a sweeping view of the Terminal 2 ramp, enabling them to see what’s happening along the ground below.

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.

DSC_0141In addition to assigning gates and communicating with pilots, Ramp Tower controllers also manage a variety of other critical functions.

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.

DSC_0153Just a couple of things more about the Ramp Tower. Since the Ramp Tower controllers assign, gates and the bag carousels they also control all of the digital signage in Terminal 2.

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!

About Andrew Sawyer

Andrew Sawyer is the External Communication Specialist for the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority and is the main writer for RDU’s website, electronic communication and airport publications. He’s also the primary face behind RDU’s social media channels. Andrew also assists with many other things, from media relations to event planning. In fact, he has an advanced degree in "other duties as assigned."
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3 Responses to The Fives: Inside The Ramp Tower

  1. les brown says:

    Like your stories.
    Been at RDU for seven years and hear everyday on the local news regarding the weather reading out at RDU is … Where is the weather read from on the airport. They really make it sound official when they say the weather reading at RDU is…
    Thanks Andrew.

  2. Mike says:

    How about a story on General Aviation at RDU? How much of it, what types, training operations, cargo, charter, terminals … the works! And maybe it’s a separate story about the history of the runways themselves, but how about something about 15/33?

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