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Small airports across the country are suing to prevent the Federal Aviation Administration from closing their air traffic control towers as part of the sequester cuts. The planned tower closures at 149 small airports won't force the airports to close as pilots are trained to land without tower assistance, but as you can imagine there are safety concerns involved. Airports in Spokane, Washington; Bloomington, Illinois; and Naples, Ormond Beach, and Punta Gorda, Florida, have filed suit in federal appeals court, suits that have now been combined into one case.
Lawrence Krauter, director of Spokane International Airport, said he expects more airports and possibly trade associations to join the legal challenge. He said the tower closures amount to one of the most significant changes to the national air system’s safety network in recent history and deserve to be studied carefully.
“No one’s going to tell you ... that there aren’t some contract towers out there that could be closed,” Krauter said. “What we’re saying is that we think that there needs to be a more reasoned and appropriate process.”
But reasoned and appropriate is exactly what the sequester was designed not to be. Under sequestration, the FAA has contended in recent weeks, there are no answers that don't involve problematic cuts to air traffic control staffing levels. (The FAA is not commenting on the lawsuit.)