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.
Slover said that Volo, which is also an aircraft charter and management operator, is concerned about “the loss of [operational] sequencing and safety margins that a tower provides.” From a business perspective, he is concerned about a drop in traffic in Bridgeport, which is a popular airport for flight training and a reliever for traffic in the New York City metropolitan area. “This could have a measurable effect on our business,” he concluded.
Robert Tod, Volo’s director of operations, said, “From an operational aspect there will certainly be an impact.The primary issue in my mind is the loss of a traffic management system that supplements ‘see and avoid.’ That loss removes a layer of safety.” Tod also foresees departure and arrival delays:“With the removal of personnel in the tower there are fewer people involved in the business of getting airplanes to move from point A to point B quickly and safely.The tasks that the tower controllers currently perform will fall onto people who are already busy with their own tasks, including Tracon controllers and pilots.”
Volo and other Connecticut-based operators also face the loss of tower cover at other local airports, such as Danbury.