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The FAA on Friday announced it will close 149 regional airport control towers because of forced spending cuts -- sparing 40 others that the FAA had been expected to shutter.

A four-week, phased closure of the 149 control towers will begin on April 7, the FAA said.

The full list of airport towers to be closed can be found here (PDF). While Republicans obsess over the White House tours to the near-exclusion of all else, this is the sort of thing that will get constituents riled up.

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Comment Preferences

  •  What Happens When a Tower Closes (12+ / 0-)

    Are flights still allowed to take off and land at the airport?

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Fri Mar 22, 2013 at 02:18:56 PM PDT

    •  Yes. n/t (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      4Freedom, PinHole, geez53, cocinero, HeyMikey

      You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

      by Rich in PA on Fri Mar 22, 2013 at 02:22:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Commercial flights ?? n.t. (0+ / 0-)

      3/16/2003 Meet The Press: Dick Cheney re: Iraq: We will be greeted as liberators.

      by cosette on Fri Mar 22, 2013 at 02:31:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        In the freight business we do non-tower operations at a lot of airports because the tower often isn't manned at night.

        Casper Wyoming and Tallahassee are two that I can name off the top of my head.

        If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

        by Major Kong on Fri Mar 22, 2013 at 04:48:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Closed Tower (7+ / 0-)

      Flights are still allowed. They follow the rules for uncontrolled airports. There are many more of those than controlled fields.

      It is basically see and avoid. In addition pilots usually announce where they are in the traffic pattern.

    •  Yes. Technically you can have a designated strip (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      of grass on your farm be legally classified as a private airport as long as it meets certain standards like being flat enough and at least one person around where I live does (or at least used to).

      You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

      by Throw The Bums Out on Fri Mar 22, 2013 at 03:12:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes. They are Class E or G Airspace (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Airspace is given a letter designation from A to G  (but no F in the US). On one end of the spectrum of major metro airports - Class A - and on the other end are areas with little to no air traffic - Class E or G. Classes E and G have no assistance from Air Traffic Control and it is up to the pilot to determine if anybody is around and co-ordinate with other pilots as needed.

      Presumably the towers being shut down are in Class D airspace which are very lightly traveled.  Air Traffic Control is only available some of the time. Also be aware that Air Traffic Control is not just for landing and taking-off but manages planes in mid-flight. Depending on the route and altitude, a plain may pass from one Control Tower to the next, or they may be out of contact with any control tower for most of the flight. It is quite possible that many of these towers may not actually be needed.

      •  renton wa (0+ / 0-)

        Could be interesting at the Renton Wa field. Although it is a Class D, it is so close to Sea-Tac that the airspace is really busy, even though the field itself is not - You need to call Sea-Tac control to transit ....   I agree that all the airports that are closed should be in red states...   or those that cater to private corporate jets.  I notice that the Hayden Idaho field is one that is going to be mothballed ( speaking of private corporate jets..)

      •  Actually They Pass Thru ATC Regions (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The Regional AT Control Center for the Midwest is based in Indianapolis. When you take off, if you're at a major airport you're under the control of that airport's tower, until they tell you to contact the regional center.

        Say you were flying from Columbus, Ohio to Chicago, Illinois. When you are leaving Columbus's ATC, the Tower will tell you to contact Indianapolis Center on a certain frequency.

        When you're close to Chicago's ATC area, Indy will give you the frequency of the tower to contact (Midway or OHare depending on which one you're planning to use.) And then you contact your destination tower for landing clearance.

  •  Uh-oh (10+ / 0-)

    They're closing Branson. That won't stand!

    Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

    by milkbone on Fri Mar 22, 2013 at 02:20:25 PM PDT

  •  so what's next then? taking traffic control (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    4Freedom, cosette, a2nite, eXtina, HeyMikey

    lights and installing them in combination meth lab/discos for interesting lighting effects? somehow this has a really bad feel to it.

    bring your own petard.

  •  sequester was supposed to be a doomsday device... (8+ / 0-)

    something unimaginable to allow to happen, right?  the first indication that that was an outright lie is that congressional salaries, (and health care) were not part of the cuts.

    •  congressional pay is protected with very (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PinHole, Eyesbright, citizenx, RainyDay

      specific laws that supercede anything like this

      "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

      by eXtina on Fri Mar 22, 2013 at 02:38:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Congress controls its' own purse (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      That's why their salaries/benefits weren't cut.

      Unfortunately, ALL bills to fund the Executive Branch MUST come out of the House...

    •  bad for conservatives (0+ / 0-)

      Because they did not seem to realize how much the social cuts would effect them.  They were mostly concerned about the military due to their dependence on government funds to prop up their lifestyles.

      But the social cuts do effect them.  The two airports around me effect the rural conservative base, I am talking about the people who voted 80% or more for Romney and elected some of the crazies people we have in congress.  These closings have zero effect on the areas that voting majority Oboma.

      The sad thing for these social conservatives is we may find that this was a waste of money.  That there is real benefit.  That the saving of one or two lives a year is not worth the cost.  The service, which was gladly given when they were not bitching about expenditures, something that started only when Obama was in office, are gone.

      This is like the post office.  When shutting down the post office meant loss of pensions conservatives were all for it.  But when the post office wanted to end cheap saturday delivery, which presumably would disproportionately effect rural areas and conservative businesses, all hell breaks lose.  

  •  Those three cuts in PA are OK with me. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    4Freedom, SteelerGrrl, HeyMikey

    Lancaster lost commercial flights long ago.  The real Harrisburg area still has a tower.  Latrobe is just another general aviation airport.

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Fri Mar 22, 2013 at 02:23:48 PM PDT

  •  Columbia Regional (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    4Freedom, kevin k, SteelerGrrl, Eyesbright

    our tower, is shutting.

    "No one has the right to spend their life without being offended." Philip Pullman

    by zaynabou on Fri Mar 22, 2013 at 02:24:20 PM PDT

  •  lol, the Janesville, WI tower (14+ / 0-)

    Take that Mr. Ryan, best of luck to ya.

  •  With the down-sized economy, air travel and (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eyesbright, PinHole

    package transport are both down. This won't have the impact it would have had before the downturn, but it will still have a negative impact on travelers and packages.

    You can't go back and rewrite your past, but you can use your past to create your future. ~ Ray Lewis

    by 4Freedom on Fri Mar 22, 2013 at 02:27:40 PM PDT

  •  It's a crash program? nt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cosette, HeyMikey

    Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

    by ActivistGuy on Fri Mar 22, 2013 at 02:27:43 PM PDT

  •  Some of these aren't regional (5+ / 0-)

    Worcester Airport has historically carried traffic for central Mass (mostly business travelers) that can't easily use Amtrak and doesn't want to deal with Logan Airport in Boston.

    Trenton Mercer is beginning to ramp up a fair bit of commercial air traffic.

    Neither of these could function without a tower.  It's not like little general aviation airports where you can turn on the landing lights remotely over the radio when nobody's there.

    I don't know if the towers in these places provide for arrival and departure control as well; if they do you can pretty much forget commercial traffic.  They take 737s now in Trenton; do you think those puppies are going to follow the rules for uncontrolled airports?

  •  Wisconsin (7+ / 0-)

    They're closing four towers at Wisconsin airports that have scheduled air flights: Eau Claire, La Crosse, Oshkosh, and Central Wisconsin in Mosinee. This WILL cause a lot of screaming. I'm sure it's nearly as onerous in the other 49 states too.

    The Bush Family: 0 for 4 in Wisconsin

    by Korkenzieher on Fri Mar 22, 2013 at 02:29:21 PM PDT

  •  See who needs gummint AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRGGH nt (6+ / 0-)
  •  I'm surprised they shut down (4+ / 0-)

    Hagerstown, that's where they have AF1's clone and work on all things encrypted and new fangled.

    Both Frederick and Hagerstown are high protocol emergency landing sites for AF1 as well.

  •  Glad to see my hometown (4+ / 0-)

    isn't on there - Eureka-Arcata, which is 250+ miles from any other commercial airport. that would've really dealt a blow up there.

    But Idaho Falls is one I've flown into. There's not a particularly convenient alternative to that one as I recall. I paid extra to fly into it because of that.

  •  Old Money, Private Jets, And Resorts (11+ / 0-)

    Many of these airports exist to serve the needs of a few wealthy local families.

    There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

    by bernardpliers on Fri Mar 22, 2013 at 02:31:12 PM PDT

  •  Next hyperventilation target for goopers - (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greengemini, Eyesbright, HeyMikey

    White House Easter egg roll may be cancelled

    "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

    by eXtina on Fri Mar 22, 2013 at 02:36:59 PM PDT

  •  The Nation Who Cried Wolf. (9+ / 0-)

    You know.   We keep going from one "doomsday scenario" to the next on a monthly basis.  

    After awhile one begins to think it's all a bunch of manufactured bullshit.  

    The fact that no one gave a shit about money for the poor being cut, but we're supposed to freak out because people wealthy enough to own private airplanes might be inconvenienced, pretty much says everything about our once great nation.  

    The tent got so big it now stands for nothing.

    by Beelzebud on Fri Mar 22, 2013 at 02:37:54 PM PDT

  •  There seem to be a lot of resort/vacation area (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LilithGardener, Eyesbright

    towers closing, is this going to impact those who travel by private jet?

    If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever. &

    by weck on Fri Mar 22, 2013 at 02:39:01 PM PDT

  •  Ithaca, NY (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cosette, peglyn

    Will see how much pull the RePIG Congressman who just got re-elcted for that district has.  

    Cornell will NOT be happy about this.  There is really no alternative in the region.  

    •  Bryan/College Station, TX home to Rick Perry's (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eyesbright, PinHole, mmacdDE

      alma mater, Texas A&M University is on the list.

      3/16/2003 Meet The Press: Dick Cheney re: Iraq: We will be greeted as liberators.

      by cosette on Fri Mar 22, 2013 at 03:09:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Oh the horror - they'll have to drive an hour (0+ / 0-)

      into Syracuse, or 2 hours to Rochester, in the winter.

      "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

      by LilithGardener on Fri Mar 22, 2013 at 03:10:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If that just meant (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LilithGardener, RainyDay, bekosiluvu

        Ann Coulter (law school alum & occasional speaker) had to sit in a limo for 2 hours (reality of time to Syracuse), that would be OK with me.

        However, I know a couple of time pressed profs and administration people who will really be impacted by this.  With Cornell starting to set up a campus in NYC, this will be a factor.  Also we know someone who works for them out of an office in DC.  And he'll be right in the thick of this.  

        If they have to use sight lines coming in and out, at least it is on a high plateau, with good visibility in good weather.  

        However, in winter snow, and fog episodes yr 'round, it can be dicey.  And I know planes between NYC & Syracuse/Rochester fly right over the Ithaca area, because I've been on them.  One in mid-Jan with sheets of ice peeling off the wings - was told the pilot deliberately flew that route out of JFK because he wanted a place to land IF the deicing fluid quit.  It was one of the most harrowing experiences of my life.  

  •  Holy cow (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LilithGardener, PinHole, antirove

    Just caught this breaking. From the Charlotte Observer:

    The U.S. Department of Transportation, which oversees the FAA, must trim $1 billion as part of the sequestration federal budget cuts. The FAA said Friday it is shutting down air traffic control towers at 149 airports across the country, including eight in the Carolinas ...... (affecting) airports at Concord, Hickory, Winston-Salem, Kinston and New Bern in North Carolina, and at Greenville, Hilton Head and North Myrtle Beach in South Carolina.
    Concord alone is already a Huge Freakin Deal:
    U.S. Sen Kay Hagan’s office says Hagan wrote a letter this week to Huerta, lobbying for the agency to change its mind about the Concord airport. She said Concord Regional Airport handles overflow traffic from Charlotte Douglas International Airport, one of the country’s busiest.

    Officials in Concord say airport activity is booming, with the number of passengers increasing 3,000 percent since 2008. The city says there were more than 730 chartered flights out of Concord Regional Airport in 2012, with most of those involving NASCAR teams, many of whom have headquarters in or near Cabarrus County.

    Shutting down Concord airport = grounding NASCAR. Not good. Big blow for the coastal airports going into vacation season ... the hits just seem to keep coming. Sigh...

     I can think of no more stirring symbol of man's humanity to man than a fire engine.     -- Kurt Vonnegut

    by SteelerGrrl on Fri Mar 22, 2013 at 02:50:36 PM PDT

  •  Waukesha County Airport in Wisconsin.... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cosette, Eyesbright, antirove

    take that Scotty.

    The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy;the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness

    by CTMET on Fri Mar 22, 2013 at 03:02:08 PM PDT

  •  Big airports pay their own way (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Through passenger taxes, these airports are all subsidized out of the general fund. They can all reopen if the people who use them will pay the costs. Hey private planes, I'm looking at you!

    In general, we subsidize things or people who CAN'T afford something, but is having a handy small airport something that matters to poor people?

    In areas where med-evac is critical, maybe.

    Anywhere else?

    (Yes, it's awful for the people who lose their jobs; austerity is really bad policy. But I am a lot more concerned about people on or over the edge of poverty than about these airports.)

    We can safely abandon the doctrine of the eighties, namely that the rich were not working because they had too little money, the poor because they had too much. JK Galbraith, 1991

    by Urban Owl on Fri Mar 22, 2013 at 03:11:31 PM PDT

  •  Actually, I'm not so bothered by this. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LilithGardener, Urban Owl

    Air travel is one of the most carbon-intensive kinds of travel. It's crazy that we still subsidize any airports, rural or urban. Landing fees should be high enough to cover the costs of operation. Oh, and of course there should a carbon tax on all fossil fuels--not just for airplanes, but that would drive up the relative cost of air travel.

    So the problem for me is not that we're stopping subsidies of some airports; it's that we're continuing subsidies of others.

    What we ought to be much more heavily subsidizing is high-speed rail, which emits far, far less carbon on a per-passenger-mile or per-ton-of-freight-mile basis than either air or road travel.

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Fri Mar 22, 2013 at 03:35:04 PM PDT

    •  Good point (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HeyMikey, hmi
      Air travel is one of the most carbon-intensive kinds of travel. It's crazy that we still subsidize any airports, rural or urban. Landing fees should be high enough to cover the costs of operation. Oh, and of course there should a carbon tax on all fossil fuels--not just for airplanes, but that would drive up the relative cost of air travel.
      It's time to put the true cost of businesses that rely on air travel and air transport onto those who currently profit from them. The market will find a new equilibrium until it innovates to find cheaper alternative ways to move goods and people.

      "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

      by LilithGardener on Fri Mar 22, 2013 at 03:43:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Got to Laugh at the Congressional Whining (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The Republican are complaining that the FAA should have dipped into unused research money instead of shutting down Towers. They are the ones that wrote the Legislation. If they had specific ideas about what the FAA should have cut when they lost part of their budget then they should have put it in the Bill. Instead they left all of the difficult choices to the Departments so that they could complain about them rather then take responsibility for the cuts.

  •  A couple of clarifications… (0+ / 0-)

    (mouseover identifers to decode)

    Control towers are in place in only a small minority of the aiprorts in the country. The vast majority, even some relatively popular locations, don't have any. There are established practices learned by every pilot for maneuvering in and out of airports without towers. Even many locations with towers aren't staffed 24 hours per day. When I was still working, PIA closed every night at around 2300 and turned over the frequency to us in the center, taking it back at around 0700 the next day. That's not uncommon throughout the system.

    The installation of towers is generally predicated on traffic count, and once you get past the top 25 for which Flow Control (or Traffic Management in the modern argot) services are provided, annual traffic count drops precipitously. Don't make me list thiem...In any event, some tower installations are head scratchers and probably political like many stop signs in our communities—neirther supported by traffic volume statistics.

    There have been so many debt hostage crises in the last several years that I can't remember which one it was, but tower closings were scheduled a few years ago coincident with certain recalcitrant GOPers to force their rethinking on FAA authorization issues. Plan on hearing a lot of rhetoric (hand wringing, wailing, and rending of garments) as this list makes its way around.

    While technically any aircraft can use any airport within the technical operational limits of the facility (runway length, surface, etc.) FAR parts 121 (major air carriers) and 135 (regional air carriers/taxis) can have an effect. Part 121 rules prohibit airlines operating under them to fly into uncontrolled airports. I'm not sure about Part 135. I could be persuaded to believe either way.

    My local airport is on the list, as is another one in the county. Neither has any commercial passenger service, but their traffic count rose to the threshold of qualifying for a tower when a large local flight school started sending a lot of students to them to relieve the load on the mother ship. It will be interesting to see if the school has any particular policy prohibiting the use of those airports once the towers close.

    The tower at the field less than a mile from my boyhood home, and where I've logged tons of takeoffs and landings is on the list, too. That one will be interesting because every single accident that's ever ocurred there has been a flash point for airport controversey. Also, perhaps the biggest banner tow operation in the country or world is there. Keeping the banner flights away from the conventional users will be an interesting test.

    There are some others on the list that have potential for leverage—some already listed in comments, but APF is in a very wealthy corner of the state, as is BCT. OSU is a pretty important feeder for Ohio State. ALN is something of a reliever (albeit for non-commercial traffic) for STL. There were lots of others that caught my eye as I whistled through the list.

    It's going to be (painfully) fun to see how this all plays out. But don't for a second suppose that I have no thoughts for the folks staffing those facilities. The reality is none of them will likely lose their job—there are lots of expenses involved in control tower operations which will be saved even without an actual reduction in force. Those jobs will likely be absorbed in the system. However, a lot of personal upheaval is its own separate kind of pain—especially to the undeserving of it.

    •  On the "any plane" can land at "any field" (0+ / 0-)

      July 4, 1967 - A TWA 707, bound for Columbus, Ohio (CMH), mistakenly lands at Don Scott Field at Ohio State University (OSU)

      The runway used was 4,400 feet long. The airport was an uncontrolled field at that time. Which means the pilot of the 707 was talking to the Port Columbus tower when it made the landing...oops.

      They had to take ALL the stuff they could unbolt from the interior out of the plane, and they brought in an expert to get it off the ground, and over to Port Columbus...

      (I just imagine the guys in the tower that night, wondering why they can't get a visual on something the size of a 707.)

  •  OTOH (0+ / 0-)

    Maybe some of these ought to just plain be closed.

    The country’s network of plentiful regional airports connecting to big hubs was largely built in an era of $30-a-barrel oil. But oil prices are now more than triple that, so maintaining commercial airline service to underperforming airports may be unsustainable.

    Still, any discussion of shrinking airline service is a political minefield, as illustrated by the recent furor over proposals to reduce the subsidies for the federal Essential Air Service program, which provides $200 million annually to help pay for flights to 154 rural markets.
  •  I hope these are in Repub congressmen's district. (0+ / 0-)

    Then we'll hear real howling.

    Hey don't I have a right not to be shot in a movie theater. The 2nd amendment is not the only right.

    by regis on Fri Mar 22, 2013 at 04:48:07 PM PDT

  •  I don't think the outrage will be there. (0+ / 0-)

    In PA, three towers are slated to close.  Small airports that aside from Capital City are probably being subsidized because they don't actually have all that much traffic.

    How about they close PIT, or ABE three days a week, then, we'll see some anger.

  •  your GOP: subsidizing air travel insurance prices (0+ / 0-)
    March 23, 2011
    A report that a lone air traffic controller may have been asleep at one of the nation's major airports has drawn the attention of federal authorities and prompted America's transportation secretary to order more than one controller staff the airport's midnight shift.

    Pilots in two commercial planes reported that as they approached the nation's capital Tuesday night, they were unable to contact air traffic control at Reagan National Airport before landing.

    The American Airlines and United Airlines planes both had been in contact with regional air traffic controllers before being handed off to Reagan National. The pilots landed their planes safely but without help from the airport tower.

    Warning - some snark above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 Acedia is essentially a flight from the world that leads to not caring even that one does not care

    by annieli on Fri Mar 22, 2013 at 05:29:10 PM PDT

  •  Noooo not Albany, GA. Where TSA smiled and (0+ / 0-)

    asked politely. Where the parking was cheap. Where there were no lines.

    "You are what you write, not what you look like."

    by PHScott on Fri Mar 22, 2013 at 06:03:35 PM PDT

  •  I grew up next to the Lawrence Municipal Airport (0+ / 0-)

    ... used to hang out at the diner there when I was a kid because I thought it was wicked cool... : )

    I went to the airport's website: it says that over 80 firms use their services.  Such a shame.  Seems like air traffic control will now be crowdsourced, but it's such a little airport, how is this going to work?

  •  No tower for the 1% at Hilton Head, boo hoo! N/T (0+ / 0-)

    "Everybody wants to go to Heaven but nobody wants to die" --- Albert King

    by HarpboyAK on Sat Mar 23, 2013 at 11:34:22 AM PDT

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