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FAA Delays Closing Control Towers For Sequester

From the New York Times:

F.A.A. Delays Closings of Airport Towers Forced by Cuts

By MATTHEW L. WALD | April 5, 2013

LEESBURG, Va. — The Federal Aviation Administration said Friday that it would delay closing control towers at 149 airports until June to allow for safety analyses and “to attempt to resolve multiple legal challenges.”

The closings had been planned as part of a $637 million spending reduction at the agency required under the across-the-board budget cuts known as the sequester.

Or, more exactly, the closing had been planned to punish the country for even trying to rein in spending.

The towers identified for closing are at fields that handle mostly private planes, corporate jets, aviation schools and minimal airline traffic.

Why should the government care about the safety of these fat cats who aren’t paying enough taxes for their private planes?

The towers’ long-term fate is not yet clear. The F.A.A. said that about 50 airport authorities and municipalities had indicated that if necessary, they would pick up the cost of running the towers themselves.

And probably more would pick up the costs. As would flying clubs.

In a statement, Ray LaHood, the transportation secretary, said, “This has been a complex process, and we need to get this right.” …

In other words, he is still trying to figure out how to inflict the most pain.

The F.A.A. announced in March that it was closing towers at the 149 airports, a decision that met with strong protests. Since then, pilots said that their concern was not so much landing and taking off without a tower — most small airports never had one in the first place — as getting used to operating without one.

What’s this? It’s funny we never heard this reported before.

At a “non-towered” airport, pilots announce their intentions on a pre-established radio frequency and listen to other pilots do the same thing, and then are able to maintain a mental map of other traffic. They fly a set pattern to approach the runway, usually in a “U” shape, at an altitude of about 1,000 feet, with the last turn lining up their aircraft with the runway.

At an airport with a tower, a controller assigns a pilot a specific path so there so there is no need to keep track of the other traffic…

At Leesburg Executive Airport in Virginia, which opened 49 years ago and has never had a tower, pilots on Friday described a detailed, almost formulaic etiquette of radioing in at certain stages, and behaving in predictable ways, almost like participants in a square dance. They said operating without a tower worked well as long as everyone cooperated.

But some pilots said that in its plans to close the towers, the F.A.A. was risking safety in a way that had not occurred since 1981, when the agency was forced to close towers because President Ronald Reagan fired thousands of air traffic controllers who had gone on strike…

And we all remember what a holocaust that was. Except there weren’t any problems.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Monday, April 8th, 2013. Comments are currently closed.

2 Responses to “FAA Delays Closing Control Towers For Sequester”

  1. “Have you ever seen a naked man, Timmy?”

  2. Astravogel

    Since few if any Congress critters actually fly themselves,
    they don’t see the need for smaller airports. Just rent a car
    and drive four hours or so to your destination.


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