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February 19, 2015 // Facility Spotlight: DTO Federal Contract Tower

There are six NATCA members (out of seven employees) at Denton (DTO) Federal Contract Tower (FCT) in Texas.

Out of the 250 FCTs in the United States, DTO was ranked number six in 2014. However, DTO is ranked as the number one airport with single runway operations. NATCA DTO FacRep Brenda Mooney adds that of all the airports in the state of Texas, DTO is currently ranked eighth, being within 60,000 operations of beating out the number three-ranked Houston Hobby Airport.

DTO runs operations from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. seven days a week.

“On a normal day we have 500 to 550 operations with peak hours seeing around 80 to 100 aircraft,” says Mooney. “On a busy day the number would increase to 700 or more. Our record day is just over 950 aircraft operations. So, needless to say, we are very busy.”

The DTO building is about 11 years old, and houses the controllers that guide aircraft within a four-mile radius around the airport, below 2,500 feet.

“Although there is only one major airport in our airspace, there are two hospitals and a grass strip within or bordering our airspace where helicopters land and depart that we routinely control,” says Mooney.

DTO controllers work with ATC at DFW TRACON, handing off aircraft such as helicopters, Cessnas and Senecas, as well as corporate aircraft and the occasional air carrier.

Mooney adds, “DTO seems to be a good stopping point for military refueling. We’ve been known to have over 20 Black Hawk and Saber helicopters sitting on the ramp at one time.”

Adding to DTO’s busy traffic is the Denton airfield-based flight school currently under contract with the Chinese government, as well as yearly air shows, static displays on Father’s Day, monthly BBQ fly-ins for local users, several NASCAR drivers, such as Dale Earnhardt Jr., that fly in for races at nearby Texas Motor Speedway, plus the occasional celebrity show at WinStar Casino, located one hour north of the airport in Oklahoma.

“With over 80 fixed wing aircraft, 10 helicopters, and a never-ending supply of students for whom English is not their first language, it’s always exciting,” explains Mooney.

Mooney says that while DTO is new to NATCA – this March marks the beginning of its third year as a member – the facility local has a great union-management relationship, and she’s looking forward to the future.

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