LaHood: 100 Airport Towers To Close Under Sequestration

AINalerts » February 26, 2013
February 26, 2013, 3:55 PM

On Friday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood laid out the likely consequences to his department and the FAA of possible automatic federal budget cuts, known as sequestration, that are scheduled to start March 1. In the absence of a revised budget deal between the Obama Administration and Congress, he said the FAA is planning $600 million in cuts through the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends September 30.

LaHood said the move could result in furloughs, air traffic control tower closings and an overall reduction in capacity, as well as delays in the National Airspace System. Likely actions include the closure of more than 100 ATC towers at airports with fewer than 150,000 annual operations; the elimination of midnight shifts at 60 other towered airports; a reduction in force at the remaining towers and air traffic control centers; and delayed repairs and reduced preventive maintenance and spares provisions for all National Airspace System equipment.

In a letter sent to affected stakeholders, including AOPA and NBAA, LaHood and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta warned that “we may reduce the efficiency of the national airspace…to maintain the highest safety standards.” LaHood said facility shutdowns would begin in April.

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william
on February 27, 2013 - 10:56am

Where exactly are the fuel tax funds going? What a bunch of crooked politicians.

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Mike
on February 27, 2013 - 12:05pm

Exactly!!

And what makes anyone think User Fees are going to fix anything!!!!

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Ron Wright
on February 28, 2013 - 3:06pm

KALN tower needs to be closed. It's a waste of OUR money. Very little traffic. Save money, shut the place NOW..

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Warren Graef
on February 28, 2013 - 3:33pm

I was caught in the 1960's in a reduction in force so that the FAA could close some airport towers. They closed flight service stations and contracted that service out to someone else. The end result is that we now have fewer places where pilots can get a decent briefing and more interaction on line. There are ten fold more pilots in the air now than there were in the 1960's and they want to shrink the safety net even more. With the loss of so many air traffic controllers and control activities, we are going to start seeing many more situations with less than standard separation. We will probably start seeing more near misses if not mid air collisions. The FAA will then knee jerk and start limiting General Aviation to certain areas and certain times of day or night. They may eventually go to a system similar to what is experienced in Europe. We should be fighting for more controllers spread out at smaller airports regardless of the traffic count. We should be seeing more assistance from the FAA instead of fees that don't benefit us anyway. Unfortunately, I don't see a bright future ahead for any of us in aviation.

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Douglas Manuel
on February 28, 2013 - 3:57pm

Strange… I always thought that a successful business adapted to meet the market, not by making the market adjust to the business.

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Lee Ensminger
on February 28, 2013 - 5:36pm

You're right... but the government has never tried to operate as a business; they don't have to, so they don't bother. [Typed in my most sarcastic font]

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Dave
on February 28, 2013 - 5:16pm

Let them close the towers, fine with me as although you may not believe this; but safety is better at non-towered airports. Pilots and Air Traffic Controls are totally capable of working without towers at the smaller airports; it is the progressives in those towns who begged for the funds to build their empires in the first place even though they were not needed. - Besides this is a Red Herring, another Obama Marxist Ploy.

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Cr
on March 21, 2013 - 9:07pm

What is your source for better safety at non towered airports? I would like to hear more. Why is this so? Also, could you provide some specific information regarding which towns require more funds for which empires? Could you be more specific and provide factual information?

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James
on February 28, 2013 - 8:38pm

A $600 million hit over half a fiscal year is not insignificant. The Air Traffic Organization is very labor intensive given 16,000+ air traffic controllers and technicians. About 85% of its operational funds goes to salaries. Even if they went after programs and management, air traffic controllers could not escape these indiscriminate cuts.

Staffing air traffic facilities, especially 24/7 types, is always a balancing act. Throw in furlough days and users may experience an unpredictable day-to-day system impact as facilities struggle to juggle sick leave, medical disquals, training, etc.

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Mike
on March 1, 2013 - 2:17am

Ronald Reagan fired all of the controllers in 1981 . It made for an inconvenience, but we worked through it. The same thing will happen if sequestration happens.

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