Friday, April 5, 2013
The Obama administration is delaying the closing of 149 airport control towers—including five in Kansas—until mid-June in order to deal with legal challenges.
The first 24 closures had been scheduled for Sunday.
The Federal Aviation Administration said Friday the closures will be delayed until June 15. Trade groups representing companies that operate the towers under contract for FAA filed a lawsuit Thursday in federal court in Washington.
The agency says about 50 airport operators and communities have also indicated they may want to pay for operation of the towers themselves, and more time is needed to work out those details.
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.