Sunday, March 31, 2013

Life in a World Without Towers

by Paul Bertorelli
Editorial Director
March 28, 2013

So now that all the towers are closed, what are we to do? Will chaos reign? Have the dogs of doom been loosed? Not quite, but depending on where you fly, there could be some challenges ahead that will be unnerving. And just to put some numbers on it, the FAA-announced closures will shutter 149 of 516 control towers in the U.S. or 29 percent. It's not a trivial number so irrespective of safety or risk, many of us will have to adapt to operational changes.

On the other hand, for pilots already operating out of non-towered airports and who don't fly IFR much, if it all, it will be business as usual. It probably will not be business as usual for IFR operations, however. The control facilities which handle these—Centers and TRACONs—will be impacted by furloughed staff and controllers tell us service will inevitably suffer, we just don't know how much. One way to look at the tower closures is to consider VFR operations first, then IFR ops.  Read more...

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

FAA plan to close towers a ‘flawed policy assault on pilots’

DUPAGE, Ill. — A federal plan to impose across-the-board spending cuts by closing 149 active control towers nationwide will compromise air safety and “should not stand,” according to Craig Fuller, president and CEO of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA).

“The White House does not understand the consequences of these actions, or they do and they simply do not care,” Fuller said. “Either way, this approach is dangerous and should not stand.”

Speaking to a group of more than 100 pilots at an AOPA pilot town hall at DuPage Airport outside of Chicago, Fuller said that FAA cuts directed by the White House will have a serious impact on general aviation in the United States. 

Schedule for tower closures released

The FAA has released its three-part phase in period for closing federal contract towers. On April 7, 24 contract towers will close, followed by 46 on April 21, and the remaining 79 on May 5. The FAA is closing the towers based on activity levels, with the first to close having fewer than 1,000 commercial operations in fiscal year 2012. The second group had fewer than 2,500 commercial operations.

Earlier in March, AOPA President Craig Fuller warned FAA Administrator Michael Huerta that the “cuts will have unacceptable consequences for the nation and the flying community.”  Read more...