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Air Traffic Tower Closures Will Strip Safety Net

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Beyond the airfields, some mayors are concerned about the impact on tourism if tower closures lead to the loss of passenger service. And there are worries of other effects, including whether medical helicopter pilots might stop using airports without tower controllers.

Rep. Aaron Schock, an Illinois Republican whose district includes the Springfield airport, said the FAA’s operational budget has grown about 40 percent over the past decade and there’s no reason it can’t operate safely under the automatic spending cuts, known as sequestration.

“Any action by the Obama administration that does jeopardize safety is more evidence that the White House is implementing the sequester in ways to only score political points,” Schock said.

Robert Poole, an aviation expert at the Reason Foundation think tank, said the effect could be minimal for some small airports that have been overdeveloped as a result of politicians bringing money home from Washington.

In addition to round-the-clock tower closures, overnight shifts could be eliminated at 72 control facilities, including at much larger airports such as Midway, which sees an average of 50 flights daily between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., nearly all of them passenger flights operated by carriers that include Southwest and Delta.

That raises the possibility that full-size jetliners could be landing there without any help from controllers.

Airlines have yet to say whether they will continue offering service to airports that lose tower staff.

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Posted by FanningCommunications on Apr 1st, 2013 and filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response by filling following comment form or trackback to this entry from your site

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