Ryan Airfield near Tucson, Arizona celebrated over two million operations error free last month. Ryan Airfield is part of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Contract Tower Program (CTP). At Ryan the FAA contracts with Serco Management Services, Inc. to manage the operation, which is overseen by Air Traffic Manager Gloria Calhoun. The Ryan Airfield tower was also recognized in 2004 for completing one million operations error free.
Contract Towers are subject to FAA oversight for operations, staffing plans, controller certification, security assessments, and facility evaluations. All Contract Tower controllers meet identical training and certification requirements as controllers at FAA facilities.
Ryan Airfield is a general aviation (GA) reliever airport located appx. 12 miles west of Tucson International Airport. The airport was created during World War II when the U.S. military turned to established civilian schools to meet the demand for trained pilots. Ryan School of Aeronautics was one of them and on June 13, 1942, ground was broken for a military training camp that became Ryan Airfield. Within three months the desert was transformed into an Army base with paved runways, aprons, hangars, barracks, mess hall, classrooms, and recreational facilities.
More than 6,000 pilots graduated from the Ryan School of Aeronautics by the time the base closed in September 1944. In 1951 the State of Arizona and the Tucson Airport Authority (TAA) executed a 10-year lease for the 906-acre facility. That lease was extended for another 99 years in 1954. In 1960 the State deeded the airfield to the City of Tucson subject to its lease with TAA.
In 1990 the Authority contracted with a private company to provide FAA certified air traffic controllers and in 1993 built a six-story control tower at the field. In 1996 Ryan became part of the Federal Contract Tower Program with the tower operating seven days a week, 6 a.m. – 8 p.m.
In 2004 the FAA commissioned a Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS) at Ryan. The system is used to assist air traffic control services, including separation and sequencing of air traffic and traffic alerts.
In 2005 Tucson Airport Authority dedicated a new administration building at 9698 W. Ajo Way that includes a pilot briefing room and lounge, airport management offices, restrooms, and conference facilities.
Other recent improvements to the tower at Ryan include a new emergency generator, new glass in the tower cab, and equipment modernization.
Today Ryan occupies over 1,804 acres, has its own aircraft refueling and service facility; three lighted and paved runways; and a restaurant. Nearly 30 tenants—ranging from aircraft maintenance shops to charters and flight instruction facilities, as well as 260 based aircraft – call the field home.