The prospect of an ATC facility without human air traffic controllers is progressing well, according to Dr. Dave Byers, a pioneer in the technology that would enable this development.
Remember the spate of sleeping controllers and the angst it all caused at 800 Independence Avenue and 1200 New Jersey Avenue?
Just in time to help prepare pilots for the closure of dozens of control towers across the U.S., the instructors at Pilot Workshop have released a series of videos offering pointers about operational issues at non-towered airports such as mixing various types of aircraft in the traffic pattern or how to fit in the flow with aircraft that may not be radio equipped.
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.
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.
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.
The FAA’s Great Lakes region published a winter operations bulletin last week as a review of important winter airport operations. This stated that issuing a Notam to close a runway when snowplowing operations begin is an important priority.
The FAA last week issued Safety Alert for Operators 10008 to emphasize the importance of developing procedures for ground operations at night at non-towered airports or towered airports after the tower has closed. Alarmingly, the FAA said there has recently been an increase of incidents involving aircraft operating–taxi, takeoff and landing–at night where crews have failed to activate the airport pilot-controlled lighting system.