Air Support

As the first airport in the United States to be completely designed, built and opened since September 11, 2001, Harrisburg International Airport has become a showcase for the Transportation Security Administration. Now, Morefield Communications, the locally-based voice communications and data technology specialists, is hoping that the paging and surveillance systems that it designed and installed at the central Pennsylvania gateway will also become the model for the next generation of airports.

"It's a beautiful airport, very comfortable and very friendly," shared Jack Covert, general manager of audio and video at Morefield Communications. "Everybody is raving about it. The TSA has brought people in from all over the world, so it is a model for them. I believe people take notice of the quality of the paging system, and the fact that you can hear your boarding calls and gate announcements and so on. So this could be a model for that as well."

The new terminal encompasses 12 gates that handle 120 flights daily, including three to Toronto. At HIA, billed as "the antidote to the big airport," no gate is further than 490 feet from the central security area. An Air Force base until 1969, HIA's runway can accommodate any aircraft in the world and on occasion handles redirected traffic from Washington, DC and Philadelphia.

Morefield, who had installed a paging system in the previous terminal building completed in 1986, was called in by the Susquehanna Area Regional Airport Authority (SARAA) after engineers incorrectly designed the new system. "The engineering firm that designed the new terminal's paging just designed a system that was exactly like the one that we had ripped out, thrown away and replaced in the old terminal," Covert said.

The SARAA was uncomfortable with that, he said. "They came to us, as a local integrator, and said, 'We need your help.' I ended up designing the system in the new terminal, and our company was selected through the RFB to do the installation."

Morefield Communications, which will celebrate 60 years in business this fall, has been a Harman Pro dealer for 25 years, and turned to the manufacturer to provide a paging solution at the new terminal. "We use other manufacturers of loudspeakers," Covert noted, "but for this application, JBL really had the best solution."

He elaborated, "We used all JBL loudspeakers and Crown amplifiers in the project, and put an IED front end in. We didn't use the IED amplifiers; we went with Crown because we wanted power. There are about 26,000 watts of power driving it in there. We wanted the JBL loudspeakers, and a lot of them. We ended up using 650 JBL Contractor Pro loudspeakers, all very high quality."

Two different JBL models were installed. The Control Contractor 24CT was used in the drop ceilings and for flush-mounting applications, and the surface-mount Control 25AV everywhere else.

Morefield also installed a digital background music system, which is loaded with thousands of songs in MP3 format that may be programmed using a touchscreen front end. "Obviously, the IED system takes over when it comes to voice paging and all of the digital announcements," Covert stated. A 24-zone IED Series 500 system handles the paging chores. "It works great and is really high-quality, industrial-strength stuff. It's excellent."

Steve Harvey ( is editor-at-large for Pro Sound News and also contributes to TV Technology, MIX, and other Future titles. He has worked in the pro audio industry since November 1980.