This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.
The FAA is temporarily cutting back the operating hours of about 100 of its air traffic control towers where movements have significantly decreased. Adjusting the hours will enable the agency to minimize health risks while ensuring continued safe operations, the FAA said in announcing its plans. Further, this will reduce the possibility of temporary tower closures occurring from Covid-19 exposures—something the FAA has grappled with at a number of locations throughout the country.
Operations at the affected towers particularly have dropped off in the evening, the FAA noted, saying it selected the towers based on several factors—including numbers and types of operations, ability to social distance and reduce exposure, and safety during non-towered times. The agency added it “expects the adjustments will not have any operational effects."
The reduced hours are anticipated to take effect next week, NBAA said, adding that a list of affected towers is anticipated to be released tomorrow.
“The FAA has been very methodical and analytical about ensuring any temporary reduction in operational hours at air traffic control towers will have minimal or no impact on flight operations, and NBAA is working with the FAA to continually evaluate air traffic demand during the pandemic to ensure that operational hours at these towers will increase as and when demand returns,” said Heidi Williams, NBAA's director of air traffic services and infrastructure.
Watch this AIN video interview with editor-in-chief Matt Thurber explaining how business aviation can deal with reduced ATC service.