The history of our towers

The Schiphol Tower: a familiar sight. At 101 metres above ground, this impressive air traffic control tower is the tallest one in the Netherlands. The facility has been home to the airport’s air traffic control staff since 1991. Our team ensures safe traffic flows within a 15-kilometre radius around Amsterdam Airport Schiphol on a daily basis - and always from that one iconic tower, right?

A double act

Actually, there are two towers in operation on an almost daily basis: one at Schiphol-Centre and one near the Polder Runway. At this time the tall tower has room for a maximum of nine air traffic controllers, and the small tower can fit no more than four.

Looking into the distance

In 2003, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol added Runway 18R-36L. This runway is located too far from the big air traffic control tower. So a second tower was needed. The existing 36-metre high radar tower was converted for this purpose. From this location, air traffic control only serves planes taking off from or landing at the Polder runway.

Back-up plan

In addition to the two towers operating on a daily basis, there is a third. Until 1992, this tower served as Schiphol’s main air traffic control tower. In the 1980s, various piers and aircraft stands were added to the building. As a result, the visibility for air traffic control at this location became too limited and Tower Centre - the large air traffic control tower - was built. The design and equipment in the old tower are still identical to the new one, making it our official back-up tower.

A range of towers

Over the years we have used many more air traffic control towers. The very first airliner landed at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol in 1920. The airport became increasingly important for non-military flights, which was why the City of Amsterdam purchased the ground to build a terminal. This building was completed just in time for the 1928 Summer Olympics. During the Second World War, the terminal and the air traffic control tower were destroyed by bombs. This is why the Aviodrome only contains a replica.


After the war, no efforts were spared to get the airport operational again. The area at Schiphol-Oost is the former Schiphol, located adjacent to Runway 04-22 in the Haarlemmermeer polder. The old air traffic control tower is now home to the popular Wings restaurant. Most of the buildings in the area are now offices, hotels and hangars.

Back to business

We are currently working hard on the expansion of the air traffic control tower at Schiphol-Centre. The familiar sight will remain unchanged, but a large-scale renovation is taking place on the inside. After the renovations, a whopping 15 people will be able to work in the tower at the same time. The work will not affect daily operations and air traffic will not be disrupted. Air traffic controllers will work in the back-up tower at night time, as construction will take place in the small hours. The tower is scheduled for completion in May 2019.

Take a look at this video created by LVNL: