The FAA said on Friday that it will delay the planned closure of 149 contract ATC towers by 10 weeks to June 15.
The FAA lowered the boom on airports serving mainly GA, business and regional airline traffic, announcing on March 22 that it will close 149 ATC contract towers as part of its effort to slash spending by more than $600 million in the current fiscal year under the federal government’s “sequester” mandate. The action could spell the end of the agency’s 30-year-old contract tower program.
Operators at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Bridgeport, Conn., are stepping up efforts to keep their ATC tower open after withdrawal of federal funding. Kyle Slover, COO of local FBO Volo Aviation, told AIN that discussions about options for keeping the tower open on a privately funded basis were already under way before the FAA’s March 22 announcement that 149 towers are to close at U.S. airports beginning April 7.
The FAA released guidance yesterday to the 149 airports whose contract towers are scheduled to close as a result of budget cuts that outlines the shutdown schedule and addresses what will happen to the tower structures and equipment.
The FAA announced today that 149 federal contract towers will close beginning April 7 as part of the agency’s plan to trim its budget by $637 million in Fiscal Year 2013 under sequestration. Two weeks ago, the FAA released a list of 238 towers potentially facing closure.
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.
Air traffic service academy Entry Point North is offering on-site training in a specially equipped mobile simulation trailer. During September and October, up to 30 tower controllers from Aviation Capacity Resources, a private Swedish air navigation service provider, received emergency training provided in the mobile simulator that was put into operation next to their tower units at Stockholm Västerås and Växjö.
The Thales-supplied tower ATC system chosen for the upcoming data communications trial at Memphis International Airport will, when active, become the first such product from the French aerospace and defense group ever to operate in the U.S. The automation system and controller display interface, used for managing aircraft on the airport surface, forms part of an integrated air traffic management system widely used outside the U.S. called TopSky.
Saab Sensis and LFV, Sweden’s air navigation services provider (ANSP), are working toward certification of a “remote tower” (r-TWR) concept next year meant to allow air traffic controllers to manage aircraft operations at small and regional airports from a distance using cameras and other sensors. Authorities in Australia and Norway have begun testing the technology as well.
Across the U.S., in all but four states, there are no fewer than 250 airport towers operated by non-FAA controllers employed by three private FAA contractors. The towers provide ATC services to a wide range of users, including general aviation, passenger and cargo airlines and the military.