Staff in a new aerodrome information service are to move into the top floor "cab" of Whanganui's airport control tower.
The move will be made as soon as training has been done and the Civil Aviation Authority certification process is complete, Whanganui District Council ports manager Phil McBride said.
The service, known as UNICOM, is also used at Ardmore Aerodrome in South Auckland. It will provide aerodrome and aircraft information to pilots in the local area and is not a full air traffic control service.
It's needed because the operations of the New Zealand International Commercial Pilot Academy increased the airport's aircraft movements to 48,000 takeoffs, landings and missed approaches in 2019.
The new service is lucky to still have an airport control tower to operate from. Whanganui District Council would have demolished the tower in 2004, but for the late Owen Cantillon-Rice and his Whanganui Airport Control Tower Restoration Group.
The group raised $500,000 and has restored its cab and exterior walls.
Its lease with the council allows it to occupy the tower and develop it into a museum and education centre, secretary John Henderson said. The provisions of the lease allow the council to take over parts of the tower if aviation requires it.
Visits to the cab at the top, with its original control console and sweeping views, were a highlight. They will still be possible when the new service is installed, but numbers will be limited and the console will be moved to a lower floor of the tower.
This disappoints some members of the group, Henderson said, but is "the best of both worlds".
"The fact that the tower can be used for the purpose it was designed for is actually a good thing. It's a bit of a win-win."
The UNICOM service will operate from the cab, in a relatively independent way, on 363 days of the year.
Architect Bruce Dickson is working out what else is needed to complete the renovation of the lower floors. When plans are final they will be costed and decisions will be made about how the cost is shared between the group and council, Henderson said.
The group will move unwanted items out of the tower next month. Anyone wanting to help can ring Henderson on 027 315 1032.