Skip to comments.Whatís really behind those FAA tower closures?
Posted on 03/23/2013 9:08:57 AM PDT by Kaslin
Sequestration chatter isn’t going away any time soon, and one of the expected headlines is making the rounds again this week. Air traffic control towers at nearly 150 airports across the nation are going to sit empty, forcing pilots to figure out safe landing procedures by a combination of the seats of their pants and furiously cracking open fortune cookies. In other words, you’re all going to die.
The Federal Aviation Administration on Friday told 149 regional airports across the country it would begin closing their air traffic control towers in April, but said it would spare another 40 towers that had been on the chopping block.
The agency said the cuts are necessary to help meet $637 million in forced spending cuts.
The tower closures will begin April 7 and will be phased in over four weeks, FAA Chief Operating Officer David Grizzle said in a memo obtained by CNN.
They need to cut $637M out of their budget, but how big is that budget? And how big of a percentage would you need to slash before you just start shutting down towers? Doug Mataconis thinks there might be a little more to see here than just red and black numbers on a balance sheet. Could it be… politics?
The FAA claims that it cannot cut $600 million from its $58 billion without impacting air traffic control. Honestly, though, I cant believe that this is true. It seems more likely to me that the Administration is phasing in cuts that are designed to have the most public impact in order to win a political battle. Take a fine tooth comb to that budget, guys, before you start risking public safety.
I’m not doubting that for a moment, but somehow I think there’s yet another layer to this onion. It’s not just the number of towers being shut down, but which specific ones. And more to the point… who works there. When you scan down the list of closures, these are all towers which are managed and staffed by private contractors. Not one of them is staffed up by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association union. That’s something of a remarkable coincidence, isn’t it? Maybe not.
No FAA air-traffic facilities will be shut down for at least a year, Doug Church, spokesman for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association union, said in an e-mailed statement.
The FAA’s union contract requires that controllers get at least a year’s notice before a facility is closed, Church said. The agency Feb. 22 issued a list of 49 FAA towers that were subject to closing in addition to the private towers.
The union workers will be forced to take off one day without pay every two weeks, which spreads the pain around a little but their jobs and their towers aren’t going away. And leave it to public sector unions to find a way to wring a silver (or green) lining out of any dark cloud. Assume there is some sort of public outcry this year after a couple of regional jets clip wings on the runways of some municipal airports. At that point, Washington gets the excuse they need to staff at least some of the towers back up. Will they go back to the private contractors, or will the unions move in with their “much more efficient” practices?
Time will tell. And we’ll be watching with great interest.
Barry the Sequesterer’s fault.
Like the memo said: “Cancel or suspend the things that will cause the public the most pain”.
Ground Biden and hussein from flying for a week and we should be able to save that much.
Spiteful little weasel.
Worcester is the biggest airport in Massachusetts to lose its ATC tower. Last year, I brought my grandson out there to watch departures and landings. The place is ghost town. Last year it handled about 20,000 passengers, vs. 13,000,000 at Logan. That’s fewer than 60 per day.
The pilots coordinate runway usage over the radio. Except for cowboys who don’t monitor and use the radio, it should never be a problem. Most small airports don’t have any control towers. Flight plans, if used at all, are filed by dropping them in a mail slot.
He is looking for areas that will cause the most pain and suffering, just like releasing the criminal illegal aliens. The illegal criminal aliens are not doing enough damage fast enough, so Soetoro is upping his game.
As a pilot, I really don’t care.... It has relatively little impact... For example, RYY (Cobb County Airport) has a tower that only has radio and is open limited hours.... It is more of an annoyance than a help... ..
After hours, all the pilots coordinate with each other (at night).
This will now just extend to daylight hours.....
Fire them and save the money...
That’s about a 1% cut. I saw a lot of cuts while working in the private sector. I can’t remember any of them being only 1%.
It’s too dangerous for politicians if citizens are allowed to own guns. Or fly airplanes. Or drive cars...
Another notch on Obama’s fail poll.
It’s to cause the most pain, while leaving the ruling elite alone.
I wonder how many crashes and casualties it will take before the public has had enough of Barry’s shenanigans?
No, little barry bastard boy’s regime has its head up the unions’ ass. ALL the workers in the towers to be closed are non-union. Not one union run tower will be closed. If little barry bastard boy was not black and a democrip, he would be up on RICO charges already.
Worcester was always a place to watch air traffic. High on a hill on a summer night away from the city heat while eating an ice cream cone was a treat. My parents took us there once in a while. I took my own little one there to see the Goodyear Blimp. I flew in and out out of Worcester
back in the day. I don’t know why the airport never did succeed. It is a gem. I don’t like using Logan. I can also remember learning to drive in St Johns Cemetery. My dad always said we cannot hurt anyone there. LOL
A 1.13% cut is like a John Kerry Viet Nam boo-boo, and the FAA is asking for a Purple Heart.
But the average public school graduate doesn't know that because they can't do the math.
The Democrats and Bureaucrats depend on the stupidity and ignorance of the average voter. Sadly, that appears to be a winning formula.
“Cowboys” are few in the aviation community. Most incidents come from those who are not current with what is going on and stumble through restricted airspace and fail to read NOTAMS, “notices to airmen”.
Mail slot for flight plans? Who picks up the mail? I just call my local Flight Service Station and file with them.
Obama - the Anti-Reagan.
When people realize that the "most painful" cuts go unnoticed, this will backfire on Zippy.
It's up to conservatives to spread the word.
The one in Frederick MD was unmanned for 50 years...manned for 1. I couldn’t believe they had a person there at all.
He probably wants a plane to crash so he can issue an EO to take more control. For the good of the children or something.
What I don’t get is why conservatives are whining and gnashing about everything they do cut. These cut are insignificant. If we can’t take this and much more, then we need to quit pretending we’re trying to fix spending.
We ought to be saying YES! Cut every unnecessary thing! Small airport towers and White House tours qualify. And next week we’ll cut more.
Near here, both Yakima and Pendleton closing. I know Pendleton had a near accident back in the 80s when the tower was closed and two opposing flights on final came pretty close.
Everything Obama does is a reaction to Reagan. Reagan lives in Obama’s head rent free.
I flew with a guy out of MacArthur Field on Long Island, which had a tower. He more or less completely ignored ATC. He jumped the line to land, and we were passed by a 727 on our port side about half a mile over at the same altitude. My pilot friend was asked to leave MacArthur and he went to smaller airport, where there was a mail slot for flight plans. Mostly only useful to determine where to expect the wreckage to wash up once your wife hadn’t heard from you in a couple of days.
Foxnews Boston interviewed local pilots at Norwood, another closed ATC tower, and they seemed completely unconcerned. The only one who seemed concerned was the ATC controller.
That's all BS. Pilots at airports around the country have been creating their own traffic patterns and separation for generations without trouble. Radios, Unicom and a head on a swivel still work.
Because it is at a relatively high altitude, and thus, when everywhere else is VFR... Worcester is marginal or IFR, with its runways jutting into a cloud.
The earlier comment about flight plan filing is easy, drop in the mail is correct... if by that you mean e-mail...
To enter a flight plan, its as easy as pressing one key on an IPAD. To pick up or start a flight plan is easy as well... depart VFR if possible and radio in the air.... or a 2 minute (usually) phone call.
There used to be a Goodyear Blimp stationed at Norwood. I can recall seeing it many times, apparently following Route 9 in Framingham. It covered most of the sporting events in the Northeast, like Giant’s games at Yankee Stadium or Redskins-Cowboys. Probably cheaper than anything in the New York area.
The only possible negative, among all the positives, of these closures is that some instrument approaches might change for the worse (ie, higher minimums). Due to being a non-tower, I’d surmise the procedures to getting a local barometric pressure might be a bit more remote, resulting in procedure changes... but this is so insignificant, compared to the savings of tax dollars.
The Feds close a tower, the State opens it right back up using local people.
Same with meat inspections. You think you have the monopoly on competent people? You think we don't have our own Department of Agriculture?
You want to close all Federal wildlife areas/parks? We have State Park personnel that can move right into those jobs the next day.
Airport security? The National Guard did that job after 9/11 before there ever was a TSA.
You think you can browbeat the public into giving you what you want? Here's a flash for you, we don't need you.
I don't like being blackmailed by my own gov't, the States should break this strike.
I had three aircraft and all my days of flying I always felt safer at uncontrolled fields. Pilots when left to use the prescribed communication with other pilots using the same airspace are more aware of their surroundings than relying on controllers, using radar, to keep them informed. Keep your head out of your as@ and surveying the surrounding is much safer. And all pilots realize that their safety is in their hands follow the rules for uncontrolled fields. Big airports need control, but that are few compared to the vast number of small airports. I’ve had more problems with the controllers than other pilots.
Don’t fall for this BS.
I learned to fly out of DTN. At the time the tower was not staffed. Two years later it was staffed, as the FAA realized that there were more operations from DTN, than SHV.
That said, DTN is losing the tower staff, and guess what? All operations will continue, both visual and instrument. Nobody will die, no planes will fall outta the sky
Indeed death by a thousand cuts.
I wonder what the communist agenda democrat party will do when it is discovered they are not needed everywhere?
At DTN the tower is staffed 12 hours per day. The minimums remain the same; 800 MSL for Localizer and RNAV, and 600 MSL for VOR approaches.
Barometric pressure is broadcast on the ASOS. I believe some VORs broadcast such info in remote areas of the country. You can also get info from Flight Service Station.
Pendleton Airport tower is already closed from 10 pm to 6 am.
I bet the incident you mention was a nightime incident. There appear to be no commercial flights in and only 54 operations a day.
Aircraft operations: avg 54/day *
48% transient general aviation
28% local general aviation
17% air taxi
It sounds like a good location to permanently remove the tower. It works out to a take-off OR a landing every 20 minutes on average...:^)
It was a mid-afternoon operation during another “tower closure” episode.
Looking at flight operation schedules in 2013 will tell you very little about operations in the 1980s. LOL
At that time around four daily Horizon Airlines flights arrived and departed.
What nobody has explained in public or on the news to my satisfaction, is why are all these sequestration “cuts” happening? I understood, and it has been confirmed through several news reports I’ve seen, that the sequester was not actual cuts to existing spending but were a reduction in the increase in future spending for this year and some years forward. And they were insignificant reductions in the increases at that. It’s comparable to your boss telling you that you were up for a $200 a month raise and then right before the raise was to start, he tells you sorry, but he can’t afford $200 a month for your increase. But he can afford $198 a month. Not a real big disappointment is it?
So why all this hand-wringing over “cuts” that were not supposed to be cuts anyway? What’s going on, besides politics as usual?
Somebody needs to check.
My quick look at the airports is that they are mostly in Republican districts.
The cut that the FAA has is still MORE than what they had last year!!!
“My quick look at the airports is that they are mostly in Republican districts.”
I had the same thought as you. The first one on the FAA’s cut list, Dothan, Alabama, is particularly costly. The city was set to announce a major new company coming to the city. This company, apparently a major aviation player, decided to hold off on the announcement (citing safety concerns) until the FAA list was finalized. I don’t know the number of new hires this company would have generated but apparently it was a considerable number. I’ve not read or heard reactions from city officials yet.
How many of the airports affected have traffic sufficient to warrant a manned tower??
Conservatives need to lease these towers ASAP to keep them out
of the hands of the unions, if only holding a weekly cocktail party in them. If that’s possible?
The purpose is to kill people so he can then point his finger at the GOP and whine that they “have blood on their hands.”