Sequester question: Is that air-traffic control tower necessary?

How does the recent sequester affect small airports? Waukegan Regional Airport’s Executive Director, Duncan Henderson, foretells what will happen when his airport loses its traffic control tower. Waukegan’s tower is among the 189 nationwide slated to close on April 1st.

SmallControlTower-SunSentinel

(South Florida Sun-Sentinel photo)

1 Comment

  • rick

    Contract tower closures due to sequester. The controllers in these towers (about 800) are going to be fired not furloughed like the FAA controllers. You really can't furlough them and keep the towers open because they are already running at minimum staffing. Each of these towers was at one time staffed by FAA controllers with on average double the staffing. Contract controllers have the same or better work experience, work for about 60% of the pay, no company paid sick leave and about 50% of the vacation time, and no pension. But most of the towers have no union representation.

    What is interesting and a bit unfair is the "fat" in the FAA is in the FAA towers, that is why the contract tower program was introduced, to save the taxpayer money. If the contract towers were not necessary they would have been closed many years ago or never built in the first place. There is a group of Contract towers in Florida along the east coast, starting at Jacksonville and ending in Miami, 10 towers total that work a combined 1,000,000 plus operations per year. Each of these operations is a controller decision, a decision that very soon will be made by each individual pilot. Some of these towers run 100 operation hours during peak times, but since the planes are small civil aircraft i guess the loss of life in an accident is of less importance to the FAA.

    I have worked ATC in the military, FAA and also contract for the last 14 years. Total of about 21 years ATC experience and also a licensed pilot. These professionals who are going to lose their jobs on April 7th have no lateral job possibilities as many controllers found out in 1981 with the PATCO strike. I am stunned by this decision and will say that at some of these airports it will be total chaos.

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