FAA closing 148 regional control towers. How long before the first crash?

It has to be the same rule as when the tower is out of service (most Class D towers are closed at night, at least around here) - the airspace becomes Class E, and the tower frequency becomes a CTAF. The only difference is that’s going to be 24 hours, not just at night.

The towers on the list in this area are all contract, not FAA or military, so they’re just easier to close. My home field, Lawrence MA, is just too damn busy and has too damn broad a mix of traffic for this. Some tower, like Worcester, wouldn’t really be missed, but the cut needed to be based more on traffic than it was.

If the community or the pilots want control towers, why can’t they just pay for them out of their own pockets? Why are tax payers paying for it? What happened to all that ‘be responsible for yourself’ and ‘we don’t want a nanny state’ stuff?

No matter what gets cut, someone is going to whine. That’s why it has come to the sequester in the first place. If FAA were self funded by commercial and private pilots, then they wouldn’t be subject to the sequester cuts. There will never be a way to cut the budget without someone getting their panties in a wad.

To say “The first blood spilt thanks to sequestration” is to admit that pilots can’t fly their planes worth a crap and need someone in a tower to look out for them? Then, those pilots need to be taken out of the air. If the conditions are too bad for a pilot, they can go to a fully manned airport and pay the fees there. There is no constitutional right to having an airport anywhere near your home or office.

You mean instead of pilots paying the taxes that are specifically for funding ATC operations?


That’s true, of course. But I’m curious to know if the airspace will be re-configured and charted as such, which would imply the FAA believes this to be a permanent state of affairs.

As it stands now, we’re talking about having a lot of Class D airspace charted in which a tower would never be in operation. That’s a little weird.

I don’t know of anybody who thinks the sequester will be permanent. And reconfiguring airspace is a slow, massive undertaking.

Meanwhile? :shrug: Read your NOTAM’s. :slight_smile:

You mean… like the taxes levied on aviation fuel specifically for aviation functions?

Yes, boys and girls, pilots DO pay taxes specifically to fund aviation activities like air traffic control. Just as passengers on commercial flight pay certain taxes on their tickets that likewise fund aviation agencies.

If you purchase anything that’s shipped by air - fresh out-of-season food, flowers, stuff from Amazon, mail that’s from the other side of the country, overnight packages, whatever - you have also paid takes on the shipping (albeit probably indirectly) that goes by air.

The reality is just about everyone at this point utilizes air cargo even if they aren’t aware of it, even if they themselves have never set foot in an airplane. That’s why some of the funding comes out of the general taxes as well - because just about everyone uses the system.

Grand Prairie’s actually a bit closer, and DFW is not too far either. I’d think if anyone would be throwing a fit, it would be the Bell Helicopter people- that’s their testing field.

(used to work for Eurocopter at Grand Prairie Municipal (GPM))

So, all they need to do is increase those taxes until the system is self-funded and then the sequester and budgets will not be an issue for these towers.

If I want something shipped by air, then I pay the delivery fee for that. All they need to do is increase the delivery fee to cover the air transportation. My last delivery came by truck and I got to watch as it passed through the various terminals. So, air shipping is not the ONLY way to deliver products. Why should the tax payers subsidize Amazon deliveries for the impatient? Especially when rail shipping is probably the most fuel efficient form. Don’t we want to be energy independent and quit funding terrorists?

If I want fresh fruit or what ever else is shipped by air, I pay higher prices at the market (the market has paid for the shipping). I, as a tax-payer, should not have to pay yet again to subsidize their markets. If the product has to bear the full cost of their shipping and delivery, isn’t that better for the free market? That way, the consumer decides if they’re willing to pay for those fresh strawberries in the middle of winter. Why should tax payers subsidize it?

Fayetteville Ark is on that list of tower closings. That’s the home of the Univ of Arkansas. Biggest college in the state and has teams in the SEC. I’d guess that a lot of private flights go out of Fayetteville Ark. Or they may fly out of…

Just 15 miles away there’s Northwest Ark Regional Airport which serves Bentonville and the Walmart Corp. Actually it services that entire area of NW Arkansas.

Well, OK… but something like 80% of US airports don’t have towers anyway, and many pilots never use towered airports. On the other hand, many frequent flyers use towered airports just about all the time so maybe they should be paying the taxes?

Sometimes, it’s less of a headache to spread things around rather than attaching user fees to everything.

You don’t always get a choice.

A LOT of US mail travels by air, but you’re only paying regular postage for it. Some US mail travels by truck, some by rail. You don’t decide, the US Postal System decides based on what they think is most efficient.

UPS, DHL, and the other courier services likewise make their own decisions. Oh, sure, you can deliberately choose Screaming Urgent OMG! Next Dawn Delivery and pay through the nose, but if you give 'em a week to get it there and they’ve got a spare nook on an airplane they just might send it that way instead of by truck or rail.

If your package is time critical then no, it might not be. Doesn’t do you any good if your urgent shipment arrives expired, even if the shipping was fuel efficient.

Why should they not?

EVERYONE benefits from the system. Just as your taxes support the interstate highway system even if you never drive on the interstate, your taxes support air commerce even if you never fly in an airplane. Even if what you purchase you have delivered by truck the suppliers to those shops might choose to ship by air.

As I noted, heavy users of the system, like pilots and passengers, DO pay over and beyond what the average non-aviation taxpayer pays but it’s extremely difficult to completely avoid anything shipped by air these days. On top of that, a lot of the weather satellites and forecasting technology was developed for the aviation crowd even if you only use it for your daily weather reports on TV and determining how heavy a jacket to wear. So, starting next Tuesday you can get NO weather reports on TV, radio, or the internet unless you pay a fee for each and every time you request the weather. Do you use GPS? Maybe you should pay a fee to cover your share of the billions it cost to launch those satellites. Ditto if you ever use Google Maps or MapQuest or the like that uses satellite photos in any way. You, as a member of the general public, benefit from the aviation system even if you aren’t a direct user, therefore, you should pay for a slice of it out of your general taxes.

I think you’re missing the point, or at least mine. It’s not just the tower that gets closed. If they decide to rechart the airport this is what will happen, at least in my group. Someone will have to write up the change and publish it for the public, and us. We will then take that change and apply it to our charts. If it gets changed back in 6-8 months then we have to go through that again.

Lets just take the case of Frederick Muni, because I’m familiar with it. If they decide to close it for months and chart it it will get published, someone in my department will review that change then make the change on the chart. That involves changing the tabulation on the side of the chart, it also involves changing the color of the airport because the color means if it has a tower or not. Frederick is on, I’m guessing, three charts at least, the Baltimore-Washington TAC, the Washington Sectional and a WAC. Someone else has to review it.

If it gets changed back then we go through that again. It also makes the charts out of date since they are printed once every 6 months to a year. That would make 148 changes just to close the tower. Changing airspace would be even worse. That’s also only my department, there are lots of other types of charts, IAP, enroute, controller charts that would all have to be changed too.

The closure of some towers, like Frederick, will put more pressure on the other towers in the area, especially the ones in Baltimore and DC. They are having furloughs as well so more pressure on them.

As for paying for themselves, the charts that pilots pay for pay for something like 30-40% of my department.

This is why these ‘simple’ closures have far reaching affects that not everyone will see.

If the US were just rolling in money and had fully funded healthcare for everyone, had fully funded education for everyone… then I’d agree with everything you posted.


The fact is that we need to cut the budget and I have no problem with them allowing pilots to work out their take-offs and landings at a certain number of air ports. IF those towns want towers because they think it will help them to make money, then they need to pay for them out of their own pockets.

I have no problem with higher taxes and fees on air travel in general so that the FAA is closer to self funded.

I also have no problem with weather.com and other for-profit organizations being charged a fee for weather data feeds, it isn’t like they’re providing their services for free to their subscribers.

How are we ever going to get government so small that we can drown it in a bath tub if we keep paying for all these services? How can people argue about how much money is wasted by government, then turn around and complain when the budget is cut?

Since it doesn’t look the like economy is going to suddenly start roaring along… hopefully the changes will be fairly permanent so you only have to make the change one time.

Hopefully we won’t ever. Not everyone shares the same goals as psychopaths like Grover Norquist.

I’m happy to pay taxes, perhaps even higher taxes, for things like the interstsate highway system and the national airspace / ATC system. We all benefit from that kind of infrastrucure.

I really have to wonder what the response would be if the FAA had come out and said they were closing the airports (not the towers, but the entire airports) because they couldn’t fund tower operations and didn’t want to create a dangerous situation. As a result, all air traffic at the airports would be suspended (they can keep their restaurants, etc… but no planes flying in or out).

I can’t help but think there would be a lot of people jumping up an down saying they don’t need the Federal Government to tell them how to fly… they can manage without towers quite well and don’t need the nanny state blocking them from flying out of a perfectly safe airport.

I looked up the closings in my state. They’re all very small airports that are within ~25 miles of major airports that provide full services.

I gather you’re not a pilot. I am, full time. Fllght instruction and business jets. Pilots have a lot of beefs with how the FAA does things, but I don’t think they see towered airports as “telling them how to fly” or part of the “nanny state”. Towers sequence traffic in and out of airports and manage them on the ground. It’s more orderly that way, and therefore somewhat safer than non-towered fields.

Aviation is full of conservative people, but interestingly they are often quite vocal at non-towered fields when pilots don’t go with the flow in the traffic pattern. I once heard a friend of mine implore the other pilots in the vicinity to “conform a little, for everybody’s good”. I assure you he was unlikely to say that in any other context.

I think you’re reading into this too much. I don’t have a real problem with closing some towers because I believe the impact on safety will be minimal. If it saves money, great. But the ATC system is there for a good reason, we need it and folding it in with conservative crap about the “nanny state” is absurd.


My initial response was to this in the OP:

And, interestingly from the link (emphasis mine)…

And yes, they did sign the Norquest pledge.

It sucks that the US isn’t rolling in money. Cuts have to be made somewhere, but to start a thread saying that blood will spill over this? So, each time a small plane goes down, will we hear that it is the fault of the sequester?

The goal was to cut the budget. Politicians can’t get their stuff straight to make cuts… so the sequester is in effect and cuts are being made across the board. It isn’t my preference, but the time has come to pay the piper.

I don’t have a problem with that either - as a pilot most of the time I flew without utilizing ATC and I don’t feel that any of it was unsafe. You need ATC for dense traffic areas, not places out in the sticks.

What I do object to is everybody in the country utilizing the benefits of a system but refusing to pay for it, instead disproportionately dropping the burden onto a small minority of people.

You fail to understand. I’m not talking about “weather.com” or “private for-profit organizations”. I’m talking about no more public weather data period. That weather on the TV news? Nope, none of that. No more weather on the radio during your morning commute. Any time you want a weather report, period, you pay a fee.

Me, I’d rather include in taxes for the convenience of not needing to subscribe.

WHY is that a desirable state of affairs? Why do you assume anyone else in this thread wants that state of affairs?

It says right in the preamble to the constitution of the United States that one of the functions of the government is to promote the general welfare. Stunting government and making it small enough to “drown in a bathtub” strikes me as the opposite of that. The FAA, ATC, and the rest of the aviation system is part of our modern transportation network that allows our citizens to travel safely and reliably AND provides support to the commerce that drives our economy. That strikes me as something worthwhile to support, but in order to do that we all need to kick into the collective kitty.

If you don’t want an actual effective government over you move to someplace like Somalia where the only stuff you get is what you can afford to pay for.

When you cut vital programs in an indiscriminate manner it is the duty of a concerned citizen to protest.

I say we cut something nonessential. Let’s drop the Congressional salaries to minimum wage. It would be unethical (and illegal) to make them work for free but if they are willing to get serious about cutting costs in their own house (and senate) why should we trust them with any of our money?

Why do you think closing towers at low-traffic airports will create an inherently unsafe situation? There are thousands (literally, not hyperbole) of airports in the US that have never had a tower and that operate safely. Some of them even have commercial cargo and passenger flights on a regular basis.

Generally, it’s the air traffic that supports those businesses so essentially if you stop flights you kill those businesses.

You haven’t a clue what you’re talking about, do you?

ATC does NOT “tell them how to fly” and more than traffic lights or a cop directing traffic at an intersection tells you how to drive. Nor does ATC simply order pilots about. What happens is that the pilot says “I want to go from A to B” and ATC tries to find the most efficient way for that to happen with everyone else going from C to D, E to F, and so forth. And that’s only in crowded airspace. The vast majority of airspace isn’t busy enough to require that and is easily managed by pilots communicating with each other and follow already pre-established procedures and practices.

You’d look a little less foolish if you educated yourself prior to spouting off in public.

They also provide congestion relief to those major airports. If you close the little airports (which isn’t even necessary, but whatever) then all that traffic will just make the major hubs even more congested. Nobody benefits from that.

[quote=“pullin, post:6, topic:653702”]

I doubt if there are enough surplus military controllers to crew 148 towers.

I don’t know about that, Reagan found more than enough to cover the firing of all AT controllers when he was POTUS