FAA To Close 173 Air Traffic Control Towers - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

FAA To Close 173 Air Traffic Control Towers

Washington (CNN) -- The federal government will close 173 air traffic control towers at small- and medium-size airports on April 7 because of forced spending cuts, the Federal Aviation Administration told tower operators Tuesday. It will close another 16 towers on September 30, the end of the fiscal year.

Spenser Dickerson, head of the Contract Tower Association, told CNN that FAA officials gave him the news, capping off a five-day period in which the FAA first told contractors they would close scores of towers, then backtracked on the news.

The FAA said it would consider removing individual towers from the list on a case-by-case basis, if the operators can explain why it is in the national interest to keep them open, Dickerson said.

The news Tuesday, if anything, was worse than previously announced. Last Wednesday, the FAA said it would close 168 towers.

"We're extremely discouraged and disappointed that the FAA is taking this action," Dickerson said. "The rest of the FAA's budget is getting a 5% haircut; the contract towers are getting a 75% cut, because the FAA is cutting 189 of the 251 contract towers."

"It's hard for us to see the fairness in the budget cuts. It seems the contract tower program is taking a high, disproportionate cut. We have serious concerns about the safety, efficiency and loss of jobs in almost 150 communities across the country," he said.

The FAA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The towers are part of the FAA's contract tower program, in which 251 towers are staffed with contractors instead of FAA employees. Though little-known, contract towers are widely used by the FAA to manage air traffic. Such towers handle approximately 28% of all control tower operations, although the towers being cut account for a little less than 6% of commercial airline operations.

John Cozart, CEO of Robinson Aviation Inc., which staffs contract towers in the South and Southwestern U.S., said the decision was "not unexpected."

"I didn't think they'd resolve it in favor of the contract tower program. I kind of expected that they would continue on their course," he said.

Asked for his reaction, he said, "You're asking a guy who's having to lay off a ton of people because of this."

Tower closures would not necessarily result in airport closures, because some aircraft can land without air traffic control help, and those that need controller help can communicate with more distant FAA facilities. But the contract tower closings will contribute to the workload at other FAA facilities, which simultaneously will be coping with controller furloughs.

A 2011 report by the Department of Transportation's Office of Inspector General said contract towers cost on average $537,000 a year to operate, compared with $2 million for comparably busy FAA-staffed towers. The lower costs were chiefly from lower staffing and salary levels at contract towers, which had an average of six controllers, while FAA towers had 16. And a typical contract controller near Tampa, Florida, received a base pay of $56,000 per year, compared with a base pay ranging from $63,000 to $85,000 a year for an FAA controller in Sarasota, Florida, the study said.

Dickerson said contract towers are carrying the brunt of the cuts, despite having comparable safety records and being more cost efficient.

But the forced spending cuts, known as the sequestration, are also affecting FAA staff. Most of the agency's 47,000 workers, including its 14,700 controllers, have been told to expect one or two furlough days every two-week pay period. And 49 FAA-staffed towers are on the list of those facing possible closure.

From: CNN

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Police: Grandfather fatally shoots grandson in self-defense

    Police: Grandfather fatally shoots grandson in self-defense

    Tuesday, November 13 2018 1:32 PM EST2018-11-13 18:32:25 GMT

    SEATTLE (AP) - Police say a 78-year-old Renton man fatally shot and killed his grandson in what police believe was an act of self-defense.    The Seattle Times reports police were called to a Renton home Saturday night, where a 26-year-old man had reportedly assaulted his mother, said Renton police Cmdr. Dave Leibman. 

    >>

    SEATTLE (AP) - Police say a 78-year-old Renton man fatally shot and killed his grandson in what police believe was an act of self-defense.    The Seattle Times reports police were called to a Renton home Saturday night, where a 26-year-old man had reportedly assaulted his mother, said Renton police Cmdr. Dave Leibman. 

    >>
  • Spokane congressional candidate starts petition to abolish 'safe storage' gun initiative

    Spokane congressional candidate starts petition to abolish 'safe storage' gun initiative

    Tuesday, November 13 2018 2:07 PM EST2018-11-13 19:07:28 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - A Spokane congressional candidate has petitioned the White House to abolish the recently passed Initiative 1639. The initiative, passed by voters last week, is a sweeping package of stricter gun regulations, particularly semiautomatic rifles. 

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - A Spokane congressional candidate has petitioned the White House to abolish the recently passed Initiative 1639. The initiative, passed by voters last week, is a sweeping package of stricter gun regulations, particularly semiautomatic rifles. 

    >>
  • Passenger sustains broken bones in apparent DUI collision on Upriver Drive

    Passenger sustains broken bones in apparent DUI collision on Upriver Drive

    Wednesday, November 14 2018 12:49 AM EST2018-11-14 05:49:35 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane Police say a truck passenger sustained broken bones while the driver is set to face vehicular assault charges in an apparent DUI collision on Upriver Drive Tuesday night. Tuesday around 5:30 p.m., a driver in a truck was traveling westbound on Upriver Drive when they crossed over the center line.

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane Police say a truck passenger sustained broken bones while the driver is set to face vehicular assault charges in an apparent DUI collision on Upriver Drive Tuesday night. Tuesday around 5:30 p.m., a driver in a truck was traveling westbound on Upriver Drive when they crossed over the center line.

    >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/
  • National NewsMore>>

  • Gene-edited food is coming, but will shoppers buy?

    Gene-edited food is coming, but will shoppers buy?

    Wednesday, November 14 2018 12:16 AM EST2018-11-14 05:16:23 GMT

    WASHINGTON (AP) - A new generation of biotech foods is getting close to the grocery aisles. By early next year, the first foods made from gene-edited plants and animals are expected to begin selling. First up, probably salad dressings or granola bars made with soybean oil tweaked to be extra heart-healthy.  

    >>

    WASHINGTON (AP) - A new generation of biotech foods is getting close to the grocery aisles. By early next year, the first foods made from gene-edited plants and animals are expected to begin selling. First up, probably salad dressings or granola bars made with soybean oil tweaked to be extra heart-healthy.  

    >>
  • Disney World blocks man who displayed Trump signs

    Disney World blocks man who displayed Trump signs

    Tuesday, November 13 2018 11:54 PM EST2018-11-14 04:54:14 GMT
    Dion CiniDion Cini

    ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - A man who displayed signs supporting Donald Trump is permanently not permitted at all Walt Disney World properties for violating the rules. Don Cini returned to Disney World last week after he was reminded he had violated park rules by displaying a Trump banner in the Magic Kingdom in September. The rules prohibit the use of any signs, flags or banners.    

    >>

    ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - A man who displayed signs supporting Donald Trump is permanently not permitted at all Walt Disney World properties for violating the rules. Don Cini returned to Disney World last week after he was reminded he had violated park rules by displaying a Trump banner in the Magic Kingdom in September. The rules prohibit the use of any signs, flags or banners.    

    >>
  • Starbucks cutting 350 jobs at Seattle headquarters

    Starbucks cutting 350 jobs at Seattle headquarters

    Tuesday, November 13 2018 8:46 PM EST2018-11-14 01:46:29 GMT
    Starbucks says Shultz to step down as CEO.Starbucks says Shultz to step down as CEO.

    SEATTLE (AP) - Starbucks has notified about 350 corporate employees in Seattle that they no longer have a job. News outlets report the layoffs Tuesday were expected in connection to a reorganization announced earlier this fall. 

    >>

    SEATTLE (AP) - Starbucks has notified about 350 corporate employees in Seattle that they no longer have a job. News outlets report the layoffs Tuesday were expected in connection to a reorganization announced earlier this fall. 

    >>