FAA to close 149 air traffic towers under cuts
The Federal Aviation Administration says it will close 149 air traffic control towers at small airports around the country because of federal budget cuts.
The agency announced the decision Friday, a month after it released a preliminary list of facilities that could be closed.
All of the affected airports will remain open. Pilots will be left to coordinate takeoffs and landings among themselves over a shared radio frequency with no help from ground controllers. That's something they are trained to do, but airport directors have raised concerns about the potential impact on safety.
In an accompanying statement, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta says the agency will take steps to ensure safe operations at the affected airports.
Columbus Municipal and Gary/Chicago International Airports were on the revised list for Indiana. See the full list here.
Several additional airports in Indiana were on the original list, including Columbus Municipal, Monroe County, Gary/Chicago International, Terre Haute International-Hulman Field, Lafayette Tower and Delaware County Regional.
The US Contract Tower Association (USCTA), an affiliate organization of the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), condemned the announcement, citing safety concerns.
"Over the past few decades, the FAA has closed only a handful of air traffic control towers, yet the agency is now committed to closing 149 contract towers beginning on April 7," USCTA Executive Director J. Spencer Dickerson said. "Contract towers have long been an integral part of the FAA's system of managing the nation's complex airspace, and the decision to shutter these critical air traffic control facilities on such an unprecedented and wide-scale basis raises serious concerns about safety – both at the local level and throughout the aviation system."
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