Threatened FAA towers to remain open
WASHINGTON — Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has assured lawmakers the Obama administration will prevent the closure of 149 small airport towers as well as end furloughs of air traffic controllers nationwide as a result of legislation passed by Congress, according to officials involved in negotiations on the bill.
The disclosure came as senators sought signatures on a letter to LaHood saying that their support of the legislation “was based on the understanding that the contract towers would be fully funded.”
In all, 149 towers are ticketed for possible closure beginning June 15, including the one at McCollum Field in Kennesaw, as the FAA carries out its share of the $85 billion in across-the-board budget cuts that took effect in March at numerous federal agencies.
The letter said the towers, which are staffed by employees under contract to the FAA, are a “vital public safety and economic development asset for dozens of communities — many of them rural — in every corner of the country.”
It was circulated by Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).
The developments coincided with congressional passage during the day of a follow-up bill that fixed a stenographic error in legislation that cleared late last week.
It was designed to give LaHood flexibility to shift up to $253 million among various accounts to “prevent reduced operations and staffing of the FAA,” but the original measure lacked the letter “s” on the word “accounts.”
President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill quickly.
Five Georgia Control Towers Closing
Today the Federal Aviation Administration announced the list of air traffic to be closed as the agency implements its . The March 22 press release notes that the FAA originally planned to close 189 towers, but reduced the number to 149 in the final plan.
The reduction in the number of towers to close was due in part to the decision that keeping some towers open was in the national interest. Twenty-four federal contract towers that are staffed by private contractors that were slated to close will remain open. Additionally, 16 contract towers that are part of a cost sharing program will remain open because Congress appropriates their operating funds directly. These towers will have their funds reduced by five percent, but this will not force their closure.
The list of tower closures (which can be viewed here) is made up primarily of general aviation reliever airports so airline travel will be minimally affected by the closures. There are several towers in secondary airline markets that slated to be closed, however. Among these are Columbia, S.C, Concord, N.H., Santa Fe, N.M., and Pocatello, Idaho.
McCollum Airport RYY
It is also designated as a weather station,although it does not operate between the hours of midnight and 6:00 a.m.
The airport is located on nearly 320 acres of land, has one runway which is 6,305 feet (1,921 m) long, and is east-west oriented, with headings of 089 and 269. Cobb Place is at the east end, with Cobb Parkway and old 41 intersecting McCollum Parkway on the west end.
The airfield sits at 1,040 feet (317 m) above mean sea level somewhat above average terrain for the area.
There are over 350 aircraft based at McCollum, most of them being single-engine. The airport has a control tower.
The airport has 358 aircraft based on it: 251 single engine, 55 multi-engine, 39 jet aircraft and 13 helicopters. 49 percent of operations are single engine and 49 percent are multi-engine. Only 1 percent of operations are air taxi. No major commercial airlines service Cobb County Airport, but there are two charter companies and two major fixed-base operators. Aerial tours are very popular at the airport, as the Appalachian Mountains are less than a 30-minute flight away.
McCollum Field is owned by Cobb County, operated by the County Department of Transportation characterizing it as a municipal airport. It is managed by a full-time, professional airport manager. The airport employs almost 185 people, and had an annual economic impact of more than $47 million to the local economy in 2002.