(NEW YORK) — One of the first major impacts from Washington’s budget sequestration will soon kick in as the Federal Aviation Administration gets ready to close dozens of air traffic control towers.
Of the 189 airports on the FAA’s original list of potential tower shut-downs, 149 have landed on the final roster. Most of them are in small to mid-sized communities, such as Danbury, Connecticut, but a few that serve fairly sizable communities — Topeka, Kansas, Branson, Missouri, and Boca Raton, Florida, for example — will all see at least their secondary airports lose their control towers. The head of the FAA said the agency will work with all 149 areas to ensure air safety at soon-to-be-uncontrolled airports.
Paul Estefan, Airport Administrator at Danbury Municipal airport in Connecticut, which serves 13 operators, said all traffic will be handled by radio with New York. This could present safety issues, he said, especially on hazy days when “a pilot’s flying in the area and the controller’s not there to point out additional traffic based on the radar screen they have in front of them in our control tower.”
The FAA had given the airports a chance to appeal the decision in early March if they could prove it would be an issue of national interest. Estefan said he wrote to the FAA under that issue and they responded Friday, telling him and five other Connecticut airports that they didn’t make it. The FAA decided to keep 24 towers open under the national interest issue.
The airport towers confirmed to shut down are scheduled to close on April 7.
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