FAA chief expects new McCarran tower to be operational in ‘16

The construction error that probably cost millions of dollars to fix on the new Federal Aviation Administration tower at McCarran International Airport has been corrected, and local representatives of the agency that oversees the nation’s airspace will start moving equipment into it this summer.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said air traffic controllers can’t wait to move into the $99 million, 352-foot facility, which was expected to be operational this year.

Huerta, the keynote speaker at Rep. Dina Titus’ inaugural Titus Aviation Symposium at the National Atomic Testing Museum on Monday, discussed moving into the tower, the seemingly slow pace of developing regulations for unmanned aerial systems and the oversight of Allegiant Air in an exclusive interview with the Review-Journal.

“There was coating that was sprayed in all the duct work, and what we were seeing was that it was delaminating once they turned on the air-conditioning system,” Huerta said.

“It is now fully remediated; all the duct work has been replaced, so the FAA will receive the tower this summer from the contractor. That starts a yearlong process where we’ll get all the equipment in and get the controllers trained. So we’re targeting next summer as when we actually transfer operations to the new tower.”

Workers on the job site say a chemical coating to prevent the spread of toxic fungus was improperly applied in January 2014.

Workers familiar with the construction project say the coating was supposed to be placed within walls, ducts and subfloors to curb the spread of a potentially toxic fungus that can cause flulike symptoms.

Instead of applying the coating to dry surfaces, it was placed in flexible ducts that had been lubricated for installation. The chemical substance never adhered to the oily surfaces, and when workers tested the air conditioning and heating system, flakes of the substance were blown from ducts into rooms.

Huerta said the entire duct system was removed and replaced, but officials with the FAA said they aren’t expecting to bear any of that expense because it was a construction error and the proper installation was listed in specifications. That could change when the contractor, Chicago-based Walsh Construction and Archer Western Contractors, submits its bill. If there’s a dispute, litigation could result.

Huerta said the tower, nearly twice as tall as the existing facility, also has room for new equipment that could be installed if a next-generation air traffic control system using satellite-based navigation is deployed.

The taller tower will assist controllers who have lost the line of sight in some directions because of growth on and around the airport.

Huerta is optimistic that Congress will reauthorize FAA funding by a Sept. 30 deadline, and some aviation industry officials believe consideration could come before lawmakers’ July Fourth recess.

Reauthorization is a key issue for Nevada as one of six states that are test sites for unmanned aerial systems. State officials have been critical of the FAA’s slow pace for drafting regulations for unmanned systems, commonly called “drones.”

“We’re working in a whole lot of different fronts,” Huerta said in the interview. “The rule-making process, which is one of the largest efforts we have, is, by its very design, intended to be slow and deliberative. What you want to do is get a lot of perspectives to the table and hear what concerns are and come up with ways to adjudicate them.”

As one of six states testing unmanned vehicles, Nevada has the advantage of having a large number of military and former military personnel well-versed in drone technology. They often work faster than some of their civilian counterparts.

“I will tell you that for every proponent who wants us to go faster, there is someone who is concerned that we are going too fast,” Huerta said. “We have to find the right balance for safe integration and at the same time allow this technology to come into more widespread use. So that’s why we’ve chosen the approach we have chosen. It’s kind of a staged approach.”

Late last year, Nevada became the first state to be certified to issue certificates of airworthiness to companies wanting to test fly vehicles. And the FAA has embarked on a plan to issue exemptions to operators that have proved the airworthiness of their aircraft. In exchange, the FAA gathers data from those companies to learn more to draft regulations and speed the process.

Huerta also discussed the increased oversight of Allegiant Air, the Las Vegas-based air carrier that has been threatened with a strike by pilots represented by the Teamsters union. The FAA routinely steps up oversight of companies undergoing labor issues, extreme growth and mergers.

“Our regulatory structure is designed not only to look at the day-to-day operations but to consider the larger context in which the airline is operating,” Huerta said. “The airline has had some internal challenges with respect to its workforce with the strike threat. We’re always very vigilant in looking at anything that might create any kind of an environment that might raise questions about safety within the aviation system. We’ve been working very closely with Allegiant in ensuring that they remain focused on operating a very safe operation.”

Huerta said he has met with the leadership of Allegiant, and “they’ve made it very clear that their commitment to safety is unwavering. They want to keep that dialogue open, and I think with the courts having resolved the strike threat issue I think that’s got everybody focused on keeping the operation efficient and how do they grow the airline.”

Contact reporter Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Find @RickVelotta on Twitter.

Holiday parades help bring shoppers to Downtown Summerlin
Sports Town USA floor manager Angela Gardonio talks about how the work that goes into the Downtown Summerlin holiday parades and how they benefit her and other businesses there.
Final vote on CG Technology
Final commission vote on the $2 million settlement for CG Technology.
Happie Home Startup Establishing Headquarters In Las Vegas
Digital companion startup company Happie Home is establishing its headquarters in Las Vegas after receiving tax abatements from the Governor's Office of Economic Development on Nov. 15. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A Facebook-branded space inside of Macy’s at the Fashion Show shopping center
A Facebook-branded space inside of Macy’s at the Fashion Show shopping center will showcase 13 small businesses in November and December and seven in January. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
T-Mobile uses ticketing data to plan for event
T-Mobile Executive Director of Arena Operations explains how ticket sales data and demographics help plan staffing, vendors, parking and operations for an event.
Costco opens its doors in southwest Henderson
Costco has opened its fifth Las Vegas-area location near the intersection of St. Rose Parkway and Amigo Street. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas strip mall and office park
The Krausz Cos. and WG Group bought a strip mall and an office park in Las Vegas for nearly $80 million total. They acquired a portion of Tropicana Beltway Center in the southwest valley for $59 million. They also acquired the Westbay office complex in the Las Vegas Medical District. The buyers are former owners of The Gramercy, a once-mothballed mixed-use project in the Las Vegas suburbs. They sold The Gramercy in phases for more than $100 million.
Mario Barth talks about the growth of the tattoo industry
Celebrity tattoo artist and business owner Mario Barth talks about the growth of the tattoo industry at The World of Tattoo industry trade show at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas
$7.5M Las Vegas pot dispensary opens near Las Vegas Strip
Planet 13, which bills itself as one of the largest dispensaries in the world, opened to the public Thursday. It has entertainment including an interactive floor and floating orbs. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caesars CEO to step down next year
Caesars Entertainment Corp. CEO Mark Frissora will leave the casino company in February. Frissora has been CEO since July 2015. He was named CEO right after Caesars' operating company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Caesars Entertainment emerged from bankruptcy protection in October 2017 Before Caesars, Frissora spent seven years as chairman and CEO of Naples, Fla.,-based Hertz He led the consolidation of the rental-car industry through Hertz‘s acquisition of the Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group.
Planet 13 in Las Vegas adds twist to marijuana dispensary look
Planet 13, which bills itself as one of the largest dispensaries in the world, opened to the public Thursday. The dispensary is located near the intersection of Desert Inn Road and Sammy Davis Jr. Drive, near Trump International, in Las Vegas. Planet 13 has plans in the future for a coffee shop, a tasting room for marijuana-infused beer and wine, a lounge for consuming marijuana on site if that is legalized and space for food.
Caesars Entertainment opening 2 resorts in Dubai
Cove Beach will open on Meraas’ Bluewaters Island in Dubai in November and Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai and The Residences at Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai will open in December. (Caesars Entertainment)
Bellagio, MGM Resorts International’s luxury hotel turns 20
The more than 3,000-room Bellagio hotel is situated on the site of the former Dunes Hotel. The Dunes was imploded in 1993, and construction of the Bellagio started in 1996. It cost $1.6 billion to build, making it the most expensive hotel in the world at the time. The Bellagio was former Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn’s second major casino on the Strip after The Mirage. MGM Resorts International acquired the property from Steve Wynn in 2000. (Tara Mack/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Facial recognition software at G2E – Todd Prince
Shing Tao, CEO of Las Vegas-based Remark Holdings, talks about his facial recognition product. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former NBA player, Shaquille O'Neal, speaks about his new Las Vegas chicken restaurant
Former NBA player, Shaquille O'Neal, speaks about his new Las Vegas chicken restaurant. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Bobby Baldwin to leave MGM
MGM Resorts International executive and professional poker player Bobby Baldwin is set to leave MGM.
Caesars has new armed emergency response teams
Caesars Entertainment Corp. has created armed emergency response teams. They are composed of former military and law enforcement officials. "These teams provide valuable additional security capabilities,” Caesars spokeswoman Jennifer Forkish said. Caesars is hiring Security Saturation Team supervisors, managers and officers, according to LinkedIn. The company did not say how many people it plans to hire for the units. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas, airlines prepare for CES
CES in January is expected to attract more than 180,000 attendees. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
AGS partners with Vegas Golden Knights
AGS is the nation’s second-largest manufacturer of Class II slot machines used primarily in tribal jurisdictions. It announced a marketing partnership with the Vegas Golden Knights NHL team. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lehman Brothers bet big on Las Vegas
Lehman Brothers collapsed 10 years ago, helping send the country into the Great Recession.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Ross & Snow launches in Las Vegas
Luxury shoe brand Ross & Snow has opened in Las Vegas, featuring "functional luxury" with premium shearling footwear. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remote Identification and Drones
DJI vice president of policy and public affairs discusses using remote identification on drones. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Drones and public safety in Nevada
Two representatives in the drone industry discuss UAV's impact on public safety. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Frontier Airlines to launch flights from Las Vegas to Mexico
Frontier, a Denver-based ultra-low-cost carrier, will become the first airline in more than a decade to offer international service to Canada and Mexico from Las Vegas when flights to Cancun and Los Cabos begin Dec. 15. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren addresses Oct. 1 lawsuits
MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren addresses criticism his company has received for filing a lawsuit against the survivors of the Oct. 1 shooting. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International opens the doors on MGM Springfield
Massachusetts’ first hotel-casino opens in downtown Springfield. The $960 million MGM Springfield has 252 rooms and 125,000-square-feet of casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International prepares to open MGM Springfield
Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International gave news media and invited guests a preview of the $960 million MGM Springfield casino in Massachusetts. The commonwealth's first resort casino will open Friday, Aug. 24. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like