The Schiphol Tower(s)

Who wouldn’t recognise the Schiphol Tower? At 101 metres tall it is the highest control tower in the Netherlands. Ever since 1991, it has been home to air traffic control. They ensure safe traffic flows within an almost 15-kilometre radius around Schiphol. And they do all that from this iconic tower, don’t they?

Tower at Schiphol Centre
There are actually two towers being used at Schiphol on an almost daily basis: one at Schiphol Centre and one next to the Polderbaan Runway. The Schiphol Centre tower recently had a substantial makeover and it can now accommodate 15 people – 6 more than before. Furthermore, air traffic control is now working with Electronic Flight Strips, and new cameras have been installed so that the gates will remain clearly visible once the new A-pier is complete.

Tower at Schiphol West
There is a second tower at Schiphol West. This is because the Polderbaan Runway is too far away from the main control tower. When the Polderbaan is in use, there are air traffic controllers in this tower to guide aircraft. Up to four air traffic controllers can work in this tower at the same time.

Back-up plan
There is a third tower in addition to the two regular ones. This was the main control tower at Schiphol up until 1992. In the 1980s, construction at the airport increased as the piers and aircraft stands were expanded. This resulted in air traffic control not having a good enough view at this location, and so the tower at Schiphol Centre – the main tower – was built. This older tower is still used as the official emergency tower. And air traffic controllers made use of it when extensive renovations were carried out in the main tower.

There have been many more control towers over the years. The first passenger aircraft landed at Schiphol in 1920. Around this time, the airport became increasingly important for non-military flights. The City of Amsterdam therefore bought up the land and built a terminal building on it just in time for the Olympic Games. The building and corresponding tower were completely destroyed by bombs during World War II. You can see a replica in the Aviodrome aviation museum.

A bite to eat in the old tower
After the war, people worked very hard to get the airport up and running again. The area along the Schiphol-Oostbaan Runway in the Haarlemmermeerpolder is the ‘old’ Schiphol. Today, you can find a restaurant called Wings in the old control tower at Schiphol East.