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Air traffic control tower
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.)

Other airports, like Stillwater, Oklahoma, are considering joining the suit.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 10:03 AM PDT.

Also republished by Kossack Air Force, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I am curious (6+ / 0-)

    the closures were based on traffic volume what other metric would you use?

    If you are against sane gun regulations then by definition you support 30,000 deaths a year by firearms.

    by jsfox on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 10:09:59 AM PDT

  •  sorry, no money for that (3+ / 0-)

    wait, maybe we can collect some taxes?

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

    by eXtina on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 10:11:56 AM PDT

  •  The 149 towers scheduled for closing (11+ / 0-)

    all used private contractors rather than government civil service employees.  As has been pointed out several times in the aviation press, those towers can easily stay open if the local folks will pony up the money to keep them open.

    Here is an explanation in This Week magazine.

    The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

    by Otteray Scribe on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 10:20:48 AM PDT

  •  This is just the beginning. (7+ / 0-)

    More pain to aviation is coming.  

    Hopefully, Republicans may begin to realize the original plan to privatize the air traffic control system might not have been such a good idea after all. Privatization of ATC efforts started during the Reagan administration.

    Republican members of Congress are squealing when towers in their own districts close. It is OK as long it NIMBY.

    This story is in AIN Online, an aviation newsletter.

    The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

    by Otteray Scribe on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 10:31:48 AM PDT

    •  Good grief (0+ / 0-)

      do you know how the air traffic control systen works? There is only one piece that is actually privatized. WX briefs and that happend about six years ago when Martim Marietta took over the duties of localized briefers. OH and FYI It sucks.

      ATC those guys I talk while flying are not privatized.

      Contract towers are not privatized they are owned by whomever runs the airport either a municipality or state agency and are funded by and tower personell is trained by the

      If you are against sane gun regulations then by definition you support 30,000 deaths a year by firearms.

      by jsfox on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 11:11:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  From the National Business Aviation Association: (4+ / 0-)
        FAA: Contract Air Traffic Control Tower Closures to Begin April 7

        March 29, 2013

        The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced its schedule to end funding to 149 federal contract towers (FCTs) in three phases over the next six weeks, with the first set of closures to occur April 7.

        Full text of the NBAA article here:

        This is from the FAA:

        Today, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reached the decision that 149 federal contract towers will close beginning April 7 as part of the agency’s sequestration implementation plan.
        24 Federal Contract Towers will be kept open.  Those are some of the higher traffic airports.

        Here is a list of the 149 that are shutting down, unless the local operators can fund them without FAA help.

        Here is the memo from the FAA.

        Yes, I know how the system works.  The towers are operated under contract to the FAA.  In fact, contractors have their own association, the U.S. Contract Tower Association.

        The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

        by Otteray Scribe on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 12:00:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Wow , that's a great April fools day joke . (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CwV, JVolvo, Egalitare

    Imagine if that was true , people around the world would point a finger a laugh their ass off !
    Defunding control towers !
    That's some rich over the top snark !

    You should do a follow up diary claiming that they are not funding bridge upkeep and repair !

    Drop the name-calling MB 2/4/11 + Please try to use ratings properly! Kos 9/9/11

    by indycam on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 10:38:02 AM PDT

    •  They aren't. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      U.S. Infrastructure Is in Dire Straits, Report Says

      More than a quarter of the nation’s bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Leaky pipes lose an estimated seven billion gallons of clean drinking water every day. And aging sewage systems send billions of gallons of untreated wastewater cascading into the nation’s waterways each year.

      These are among the findings of a report to be released Wednesday by the American Society of Civil Engineers, which assigned an overall D grade to the nation’s infrastructure and estimated that it would take a $2.2 trillion investment from all levels of government over the next five years to bring it into a state of good repair.


      Republicans: if they only had a heart.

      by leu2500 on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 05:51:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  4 of the 5 Airports in CT will be without towers (0+ / 0-)

    Tweed New Haven is a commercial airport with 35-40 flights/day scheduled and quite a few corporate jets. Hartford/Brainerd is a very busy corporate and private aviation port and rather close to Bradley. And Groton/NewLondon is home to corporate and National Guard flights. All of CT has very dense air traffic. To have these ports working without controllers is terrifying.

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 11:13:31 AM PDT

    •  I have flown into everyone of these airports (0+ / 0-)

      And while there is going to be some slow down in how quickly one gets in and out of the airspaces I think you really don't need to worry.

      If you are against sane gun regulations then by definition you support 30,000 deaths a year by firearms.

      by jsfox on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 11:22:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not terrifying (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Egalitare, chrismorgan, cybersaur

      This is the freedom, liberty, no tax world of the GOP.

      •  Yeah! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        We don't need government storm troopers telling us not to crash our planes!  It's our Ayn Rand given right to kill ourselves and any innocent people who happen to be in the way of our mighty freedom-deserving selves.  They're all just takers anyway.

        "And the President of the United States - would be seated right here. I would be here. And he would be here. I would turn - and there he’d be. I could pet ‘im." - Lewis Black

        by libdevil on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 06:29:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Terrified Corporations and Private Jets (5+ / 0-)

      I like the idea that corporations' and private jets' owners, who don't pay enough taxes, will be terrified that their airports are getting shut down since they don't pay enough taxes.

      Isn't Connecticut where most of the bankers live? That's where they're keeping our money we don't have to pay our taxes.

      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

      by DocGonzo on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 06:10:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Since they're closing the towers (0+ / 0-)

      Shouldn't all the pilots and passengers be given guns to make them safer? If there's another plane already on the runway, couldn't they just shoot it out of the way?
      Real Americans don't need no control towers.

      +++ The law is a weapon used to bludgeon us peasants into submission. It is not to be applied to the monied elite.

      by cybersaur on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 09:08:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Boo hoo. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jakedog42, a2nite, Kimbeaux

    Who uses these airports? Certainly not the waitress at the diner
    living on tips to feed her family.

    User fees at each airport would be a much more equitable way to fund use of these facilities.  Let the marketplace decide.....

    Imagine all the people, living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. John Lennon

    by GwenM on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 11:43:54 AM PDT

  •  Too bad not crying nt (0+ / 0-)
  •  What about safety criteria??? (0+ / 0-)

    The aforementioned Spokane International receives several commercial flights per day and its runways are nearly parallel to, and separated by less than 3 miles, from Fairchild AFB's runway.
    Check out this map, and ignore the "proposed options 1 and 2 (sorry, pdf):

    The idea of no tower controlling Spokane, which has approach-path issues between the civilian and military fields, doesn't sit well with me.

    •  one of the CA towers (0+ / 0-)

      is at Whiteman, which is a few miles from (and on nearly the same alignment) as the north-south runway at Burbank, but considerably shorter - it gets all small planes.
      Some years back a jet nearly landed at Whiteman when the pilot misidentified it, but was able to pull up in time - it would have been very messy.

      (Is it time for the pitchforks and torches yet?)

      by PJEvans on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 08:05:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Government Bad; Therefore Less Government Good (0+ / 0-)

    Lather, rinse, repeat - until it hits them where they live. It would be interesting to hit them back when they complain with a little Randian Snark: "Don't blame us - blame John Galt. We're just getting out of your way."

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 04:15:35 PM PDT

  •  I'm not sure I get this... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    leu2500, SlightKC

    So sequester means screw the people who help ensure planes land safely?  

    Does it also mean I don't have to take off my shoes, or get ex-rayed into nakedity, or subject my 8 year old to a random search in order to take her to see her Grandma?  

    Priorities, folks, look at the priorities.  All the fancy homeland security bullshit technology has saved "us" from how many "terrorists"?  

    Sequestering is putting how many hard-working good hearted people out of work?  Would love to see the math on this one.

    •  Hard to sympathize. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nancyjones, cybersaur

      Aren't too many rural areas that vote Dem, so I assume they all indirectly voted for sequestation.

      And, you know, I bet a lot of the really pissed off people are rich bozos with private jets.

      "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

      by Bush Bites on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 06:32:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This is what ticks me off... (6+ / 0-)

      Yes, all these things hurt.  I hear (and understand) safety issues with ATC... I remember when Reagan broke the Air Traffic Controller's Strike by firing everyone.  I knew then in what direction this country was heading.

      While this -is- getting a lot of press, followed by the Border Patrol, and the release of non-violent immigrant detainees... by far the largest ruckus has been about the White House Tours cancellation.  Talk about disjointed national priorities -- they're still screaming about that!  

      Meanwhile, mothers and children are being thrown to the proverbial wolves, kids are being kicked out of Head Start, parents are being forced to make choices about whether to stay home with them, or go on to work to earn what little they can and what -- leave the toddlers to fend for themselves all day?  Where's the outcry and media attention on that?

      And hundreds of thousands of us who don't make enough now to cover what's left of the budgets we've already cut, thanks to our "extravagant" pay of $27k+  having been frozen for two years... are left trying to figure out how the hell to hang on to what we've got left with a pay cut of 20% more for the rest of the year.

      I've seen maybe a sentence or two in statement of that in some media, but nothing to really bring it home to people just WHAT that means.  Oh... I've seen what it could do to "the economy;" or to small businesses, etc.  

      But where are the many and frequent human impact stories that accompanied the shut down of the government back in Clinton's time?  Where is the "humanizing" aspect of this "Sequestration?"

      Even the never-ending articles about the White House Tours focused on how p'o'd the Repugs were, and nothing about WHO was being furloughed from those tours!

      Peons... Serfs... Wage Slaves.  We don't even rank honorable mention anymore.

      Yeah... I'm one of 'em... and I'm thoroughly ticked off... and frustrated.  As a veteran and a now dedicated civil servant, I feel betrayed and scapegoated... and, right now, scared.  

      But... maybe I've just missed those multitude of articles, eh?

  •  Simple. Close the airport. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlackSheep1, Urban Owl, Odysseus, GwenM

    Safety problem eliminated.  

    Fly somewhere else less convenient.

  •  Suing Costs Money (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'm paying for those courts where they're suing. And the suing isn't landing any planes. So stop it. Until the US debt is paid off, any corporation that sues or is sues has to pay the court its daily costs, plus a deposit to start in case the court decides against the corporation and the corporation folds and doesn't pay. Or decides for the corporation and the corporation folds and doesn't pay.

    Pay up, leeches.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 06:06:21 PM PDT

  •  Screw them. n/t (0+ / 0-)

    "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

    by Bush Bites on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 06:25:01 PM PDT

  •  The rich love their toy planes. (0+ / 0-)

    You see, we need to fix entitlements.

  •  The sequester is probably not enforceable (0+ / 0-)

    Sure, there is little doubt that Congress could repeal just about any prior spending commitment made by the US.  All such committments came from Congress in the first place.  The laws they pass are the supreme law of the land, so sure, the default assumption has to be that Congress can cut any spending it cares to.

    But the very same reasoning, the very same exclusive right and power that Congress has to make and unmake the spending committments of the United States, means that repealing a spending committment probably has to be made with about the same level of specificity and clarity of Congressional intent, as the original committment to spend that money.  Nothing but a new law can unmake the requirements of the prior spending law, and the application of that new law is bound to be challenged by all sorts of people unhappy with the undoing of the spending committments of the prior law.  And these unhapopy people are going to have a case insofar as the new law doesn't make it tolerably clear that Congress meant to do away with the requirement to spend the particular pot of money the old law committed the US to spending the way these folks want it spent.  Many of the millions of parties adversely affected by sequester cuts, not just rural frequent fliers, are going to be handed potential causes of action

    So, yes, people served by rural airports that the administratiion has decided to close because the administration has decided that that particular pot of ATC money is expendable to meet the mandated cuts, would seem to have an excellent case that, no, some other pot of money could, and should, equally be thought cut-worthy, and how dare the administration usurp a power of appropriation reserved to Congress?  It really, really does not matter that the sequester law set things up that way, made the administration the arbiter.  The Supremes shot down a prior law that tried to achieve a balanced budget by executive cuts, and nothing suggests that this iteration of the same shell game, this apparetnly less systematic and thought-out iteration, will survive the same scrutiny.

    The media these days sucks in general.  But pehraps the most flagrant dereliction recently of their duty to search out, understand, and then report the basic facts of public policy disputes, is the breezy lack of reporting on exactly how detailed, and therefore how likely to be legally workable, is the guidance the sequester law gives the administration in effectively repealing existing spending laws.  The media settled for airy generalities like "20% across the board cuts", which made and make no sense.  If the guidelines were that general, then clearly, the sequester is not workable, it will be tossed in short order if any attempt is made to use it to justify not paying out what existing law requires.  It seems in actuality to have some more detailed guidance, and therefore properly delegated authority, to make cuts, but nothing in the coverage I've read susggests that the delegation comes close to meeting any common sense sanity test, much less the tests that threw out the Gramm-Rudman Balanced Budget Act of late unlamented memory.  Good luck finding any coverage that is at all informed by this rather basic consideration -- is the thing enforceable?

    The states must be abolished.

    by gtomkins on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 09:33:59 PM PDT

    •  It sounds like a fairly specific question (0+ / 0-)

      If Congress explicitly renounces its power to determine specifically where the cuts should go, granting that power to the Executive, is that OK?  In our country of jealously guarded powers, I don't imagine the question has come up too much.

      I will say, in defense of the sequester's constitutionality, that at some point the MSM's lack of attention to possible constitutional challenges may in fact reflect the weakness of the challenges rather than some conspiracy of suckiness.  I mean, it's been a month and nobody's suing anybody, even though there was plenty of advance warning.

      Lastly, I was curious enough to look up Gramm-Rudman (yuk, I remember seeing those bozos on McNeil-Lehrer...heck, I even remember seeing Kemp and Roth!) to see what the Court struck down.  It looks like it was more about whether Congress could delegate budget-cutting power to the Comptroller-General rather than whether it could be delegated at all.

      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 Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 03:58:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Congress decides how much money each agency... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest, gtomkins

      ...will receive. They do not specify how the money is spent.

      Each agency prepares a budget request every fiscal year. When Congress punts, passing a "Continuing Resolution" it usually specifies that spending under the CR cannot exceed what was spent in the past fiscal year. If Congress is being especially draconian, they make the CR a certain percentage of the prior fiscal year monies.

      So most of the government agencies are under a CR this year -- IIRC, only Defense's appropriation bill passed.

      Note -- an appropriation bill CAN contain directives on how some of the money is spent, but it rarely covers a line by line account of how the all funds are to be spent. That's why the agencies can decide where to cut.

      In actuality, the agencies don't have many "soft" areas in the budget -- even if they're located in a government building, they still pay rent and utilities. And a certain amount of supplies have to be bought each year -- but they'll be very cautious doing so.

      Areas that can and are cut usually fall in this order -- Travel, Training, and Payroll. Because some agencies require their employees to have a certain amount of yearly training, there is not a lot that can be cut there. Some jobs require travel, period.

      And that leaves payroll -- which is why there are furloughs because of the sequester.

      I've been part of the budgeting process in my region, what no one seems to realize is that they've been cutting our funds every year since Obama was elected. In some agencies, it's gone past cutting muscle. We're now down to sawing bones.

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