The FAA lowered the boom on airports serving mainly GA, business and regional airline traffic, announcing on March 22 that it will close 149 ATC contract towers as part of its effort to slash spending by more than $600 million in the current fiscal year under the federal government’s “sequester” mandate. The action could spell the end of the agency’s 30-year-old contract tower program.
Airports, Heliports and FBOs
New developments at airports and heliports, including regulations and noise issues; legal disputes; openings, acquisitions and mergers of FBOs; AIN’s Annual FBO Survey Reports; and news, issues and concerns regarding fuel cards, fuel prices and alternative fuels.
Operators at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Bridgeport, Conn., are stepping up efforts to keep their ATC tower open after withdrawal of federal funding. Kyle Slover, COO of local FBO Volo Aviation, told AIN that discussions about options for keeping the tower open on a privately funded basis were already under way before the FAA’s March 22 announcement that 149 towers are to close at U.S. airports beginning April 7.
The FAA released guidance yesterday to the 149 airports whose contract towers are scheduled to close as a result of budget cuts that outlines the shutdown schedule and addresses what will happen to the tower structures and equipment.
Connecticut-based FBO operator Volo Aviation has been awarded a five-year contract to manage the lone FBO at Capital City Airport in New Cumberland, Pa. Known formerly as CXY Aviation, the FBO was recently purchased by Skyport Holdings, an investment group that brought Volo in to run the facility. It will be rebranded as the third Volo Aviation location, along with FBOs at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Bridgeport, Conn., and Sebring (Fla.) Regional Airport.
The FAA announced today that 149 federal contract towers will close beginning April 7 as part of the agency’s plan to trim its budget by $637 million in Fiscal Year 2013 under sequestration. Two weeks ago, the FAA released a list of 238 towers potentially facing closure.
Bristol Flying Centre at the UK’s Bristol Airport opened its newly expanded FBO last week. The now 6,500-sq-ft facility has doubled from its previous size to offer two separate lounges for private and charter flights, as well as a separate crew lounge and redesigned passenger reception areas. The southwest England FBO has recently seen a “massive” increase in handling business, resulting in 1,700-percent growth in annual passenger numbers. Starting next month, Bristol Flying Centre will complete its service capability with the acquisition of a dedicated fuel farm.
JetPort’s new FBO at Russia’s St. Petersburg Pulkovo Airport officially opened last Wednesday at the Pulkovo-3 building. The facility, which sits on a 24-acre lot, plans to add international flight capability “in the near future,” after arrangements are finalized with the Russian immigration, customs and civil aviation authorities.
Robinson Helicopter revealed its intention to obtain approval to operate its R44 and R22 piston-engine helicopters on unleaded fuel this week at Heli-Expo. According to Robinson CEO Kurt Robinson, engine maker Lycoming needs to obtain FAA approval to burn unleaded fuels in its engines while Robinson must perform airframe testing with the fuels on board for each of its relevant helicopter models.
HAI president Matt Zuccaro announced a renewed and enhanced partnership with the Experimental Aircraft Association during his annual press conference at Heli-Expo ’13. Zuccaro introduced EAA’s Jonathan Berger, who detailed the new arrangement.
A day after revealing its intention to obtain approval to operate its R44 and R22 piston engine helicopters on unleaded fuel (see article on page 10), Robinson Helicopter (Booth No. C23) shared its strategy for doing so. CEO Kurt Robinson and engineering vice president Pete Riedl spelled out the steps required and the technical issues involved.