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Control Tower at Easterwood Airport to Close Next Month

Pilots flying in and out of Easterwood Airport will soon be without assistance from the local control tower.

The FAA has announced Easterwood is among 149 airports losing air traffic controllers as part of sequestration.

Easterwood’s Director of Aviation, John Happ, says passenger jet service will continue as scheduled.

The closures will start April 7 and take four weeks to complete.

Congressman Bill Flores of Bryan talked about tower closures earlier this week on WTAW’s The Infomaniacs. “There are smart cuts and there are dumb cuts. And the Secretary of Transportation has elected to go the dumb cut route. If you look at the FAA budget today versus where we were in 2001, we  have about 15 percent fewer flights today than we did before 9-11. And the FAA budget has grown by 40 percent. And so there should be a way where they can cut five percent out of the growth section of the budget and not have to shut down towers. But the administration has elected to go the political route instead of a smart route.”

BillFlores032013faa.mp3Comments from Bill Flores.

Click HERE to read the locations of affected airports.

Here is the news release from the FAA:

WASHINGTON – Today, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reached the decision that 149 federal contract towers will close beginning April 7 as part of the agency’s sequestration implementation plan. The agency has made the decision to keep 24 federal contract towers open that had been previously proposed for closure because doing so would have a negative impact on the national interest.

An additional 16 federal contract towers under the “cost share” program will remain open because Congressional statute sets aside funds every fiscal year for these towers. These cost-share program funds are subject to sequestration but the required 5 percent cut will not result in tower closures.

“We heard from communities across the country about the importance of their towers and these were very tough decisions,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Unfortunately we are faced with a series of difficult choices that we have to make to reach the required cuts under sequestration.”

“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,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

In early March, FAA proposed to close 189 contract air traffic control towers as part of its plan to meet the $637 million in cuts required under budget sequestration and announced that it would consider keeping open any of these towers if doing so would be in the national interest.

The national interest considerations included: (1) significant threats to national security as determined by the FAA in consultation with the Department of Defense or the Department of Homeland Security; (2) significant, adverse economic impact that is beyond the impact on a local community; (3) significant impact on multi-state transportation, communication or banking/financial networks; and (4) the extent to which an airport currently served by a contract tower is a critical diversionary airport to a large hub.

In addition to reviewing materials submitted on behalf of towers on the potential closure list, DOT consulted with the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, and conducted operational assessments of each potential tower closure on the national air transportation system.

Some communities will elect to participate in FAA’s non-federal tower program and assume the cost of continued, on-site air traffic control services at their airport (see Advisory Circular AC 90-93A.) The FAA is committed to facilitating this transition.

The FAA will begin a four-week phased closure of the 149 federal contract towers beginning on April 7.

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Posted by on Mar 22 2013. Filed under Featured Stories, News.
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