Susan Fields, Tri-Cities Regional Airport services employee, makes an announcement on the public address system Thursday. The airport commission is looking for ways to improve the quality of the system. David Grace photo.
BLOUNTVILLE — Tri-Cities Regional Airport has one problem that can’t seem to get fixed.
People hear the problem every day.
TCRA’s fuzzy-sounding public address system continues to echo throughout the airport’s cavernous terminal and be misunderstood by travelers.
Airport officials have been trying to get the sound right for more than five years.
The airport’s sound system was the number one customer complaint cited by those who filled out TCRA comment cards during the peak travel months of July and August in 2002.
Those comment cards are still being filled out.
“Our sound system is probably our number one customer service issue,” said TCRA Executive Director Patrick Wilson. “The sound is good in the concourse and the baggage claim area. In front of the ticket counter, it is marginal. ... In the terminal area, it is very poor.”
The terminal’s high vaulted ceiling, terrazzo floor and windows contribute to the area’s poor acoustics.
The airport has spent between $30,000 and $50,000 trying to fix the sound system, Wilson said.
“We put in new speakers around the terminal. ... We very quickly realized that was not what we wanted. Then we did some sound modeling with help from (sound company) Bose. That made an improvement, but it was not at the level we needed,” Wilson explained.
Last Thursday, TCRA’s Airfield Development Committee recommended the airport enter into a $135,000 contract with a consultant to make more improvements.
“The other attempts were not a comprehensive approach like this is. ... This is totally focused on getting the sound quality right,” Wilson said of the contract.
For more about TCRA go to www.triflight.com.