Braden, Varner & Angelley

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Airport Control Towers on the Chopping Block

Posted by bvalaw on March 20, 2013

The FAA has stated that it will publish its final list of control tower closures on Friday, March 22, 2013. The forced government spending cuts that began earlier this year has among its casualties 189 of the nation’s 251 contract control towers. The towers targeted for closure are generally at small and medium sized airports. The FAA has stated that 173 such towers will be shut down on April 7, 2013 and another 16 will close on September 30, 2013.

This move has caused great concern among many of the country’s smaller communities, especially those such as Texarkana, AR, Topeka, KS, Klamath Falls, OR and Waco, TX, whose airports presently support commercial and/or military operations. Although the affected airports will not be shut down, the tower closures certainly pose risks to safety and economic well-being in such areas.

Specifically, pilots taking off and landing at these airports will be totally responsible for their own traffic observations and will not have any close in radar support. Additionally, the work load for nearby air traffic controllers at other locations will no doubt increase significantly. And, commercial and military operations at these airports may well stop altogether.

Texas stands to lose as many as 19 control towers across the state in locations such as, Waco, Brownsville, College Station, Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth and San Antonio. The FAA has stated that it will consider removing certain towers from the list if an effective case can be made that its closing will significantly impact the nation’s interests. However, given the fact that the FAA’s budget for contract towers is being slashed by 75%, it is unlikely that many, if any, of the towers on the list will be spared.

If you have a question about aviation or aviation law, please feel free to contact William Angelley at (214) 826-5400.