FAA closure list includes Albert Whitted and Lakeland Linder - WFLA News Channel 8

FAA tower closure list includes Albert Whitted and Lakeland Linder Regional Airport

Posted: Updated:
CHICAGO, IL (WFLA) -

Under orders to trim hundreds of millions of dollars from its budget, the Federal Aviation Administration released a final list Friday of 149 air traffic control facilities that it will close at small airports around the country starting early next month.

The closures will not force the shutdown of any of those airports, but pilots will be left to coordinate takeoffs and landings among themselves over a shared radio frequency with no help from ground controllers. All pilots are trained to fly using those procedures.

The plan has raised concerns since a preliminary list of facilities was released a month ago. Those worries include the impact on safety and the potential financial effect on communities that rely on airports to help attract businesses and tourists.

"We will work with the airports and the operators to ensure the procedures are in place to maintain the high level of safety at non-towered airports," FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in a statement.

The FAA is being forced to trim $637 million for the rest of the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. The agency said it had no choice but to subject most of its 47,000 employees, including tower controllers, to periodic furloughs and to close air traffic facilities at small airports with lighter traffic. The changes are part of the across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration, which went into effect March 1.

All of the airports targeted for tower shutdowns have fewer than 150,000 total flight operations per year. Of those, fewer than 10,000 are commercial flights by passenger airlines.

Airport directors, pilots and others in the aviation sector have argued that stripping away an extra layer of safety during the most critical stages of flight will elevate risks and at the very least slow years of progress that made the U.S. aviation network the safest in the world.

Airlines have yet to say whether they will continue offering service to airports that lose tower staff. Any scaling back of passenger service could have major economic impact for communities.

The 149 air traffic facilities slated to begin closing on April 7 are all staffed by contract employees who are not FAA staffers. There were 65 other facilities staffed by FAA employees on the preliminary list of towers that could be closed. A final decision on their closure will require further review, the FAA said.

The agency is also still considering eliminating overnight shifts at 72 air traffic facilities, including some at major airports like Chicago's Midway International and General Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee. There was no word Friday on when a decision will come.

Mark Hanna, director of the Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport in Springfield, Ill., says without ground controllers as backup, the risk to operate "goes up exponentially," especially at airports like his, which have such a broad mix of aircraft types: everything from privately operated Piper Cubs to the larger passenger planes of United and American airlines.

His airport has an FAA-staffed tower that could be closed.

That an aviation sector as sensitive as air traffic control could become subject to political brinkmanship in Washington was especially frustrating, he said.

Hoping to escape the final cut, airport directors were left to argue with the FAA about whether the closure of their facilities would adversely affect what the agency described in a letter as the "national interest."

After reviewing those responses, the FAA decided to keep open 24 towers, including one at the Kissimmee Gateway airport serving Orlando, Fla., and the Denver area's Front Range airport.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)statement on tower closures with list of affected airports: www.faa.gov/news/press_releases/news_story.cfm?newsId14414.

 

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Rodents, roaches close 7 Tampa Bay area restaurants

    Rodents, roaches close 7 Tampa Bay area restaurants

    Monday, July 28 2014 12:03 PM EDT2014-07-28 16:03:39 GMT
    State inspectors temporarily closed seven Tampa Bay eateries from July 14 through 19 after discovering problems with rodents or roaches at the restaurants.We've listed the restaurants that were closed, along with details about what inspectors say they found.
    State inspectors temporarily closed seven Tampa Bay eateries from July 14 through 19 after discovering problems with rodents or roaches at the restaurants.We've listed the restaurants that were closed, along with details about what inspectors say they found.
  • Watch this excited dog faint after being reunited with owner

    Watch this excited dog faint after being reunited with owner

    Monday, July 28 2014 7:32 AM EDT2014-07-28 11:32:38 GMT
    Rebecca Ehalt may have missed her dog while away in Europe, but it's clear that her pet schnauzer missed her so much that it knocked the poor pooch off her feet — literally.
    Rebecca Ehalt may have missed her dog while away in Europe, but it's clear that her pet schnauzer missed her so much that it knocked the poor pooch off her feet — literally.
  • Teen killed by stray bullet in Manatee shooting

    Teen killed by stray bullet in Manatee shooting

    Monday, July 28 2014 9:53 AM EDT2014-07-28 13:53:32 GMT
    A shooting was reported at the intersection of the US Highway 301 and University Parkway early Monday morning where a 17-year-old was struck by a bullet and killed, Manatee County Sheriff's Office said.
    A shooting was reported at the intersection of the US Highway 301 and University Parkway early Monday morning where a 17-year-old was struck by a bullet and killed, Manatee County Sheriff's Office said.
Powered by WorldNow

200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606

Telephone: 813.228.8888
Fax: 813.225.2770
Email: news@wfla.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.