UPDATE: Friday, March 22, 2013
Five small Kansas airports are among those that will have their towers shut down by the Federal Aviation Administration because of federal budget cuts.
Airport towers slated to stop operations in Kansas include Hutchinson Municipal Airport, New Century in Olathe, Manhattan Regional Airport, Johnson County Executive Airport in Olathe and Philip Billard Municipal Airport in Topeka.
The closures will not force the shutdown of any of the airports. But pilots will be left to coordinate takeoffs and landings among themselves over a shared radio frequency with no help from ground controllers under procedures that all pilots are trained to carry out.
The plan has raised concerns over the impact on safety and the potential financial effect on communities that rely on airports as economic engines for attracting business.
Friday, March 22, 2013
The Federal Aviation Administration has reached the decision to close 149 regional airport towers as part of the agency's sequester budget cuts, a list that includes the tower at Hutchinson Municipal Airport.
The FAA made the announcement Friday afternoon. The decision comes after an FAA proposal back in March to close 189 towers as part of a plan to meet the $637 million in cuts required under budget sequestration. At the time they also said they would consider keeping some of the towers on the list open if it would be in the national interest. Forty were removed from the closure list released today, including the tower at Forbes Field in Topeka.
“We heard from communities across the country about the importance of their towers and these were very tough decisions,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Unfortunately we are faced with a series of difficult choices that we have to make to reach the required cuts under sequestration.”
Four other Kansas towers are also set to close, including New Century Aircenter and Johnson County Executive, both in Olathe, Manhattan Regional and Philip Billard Municipal in Topeka.
The towers are set to close on April 7th.