News/Talk WSB's Pete Combs contributed to this story
While the Senate has passed a bill that would end FAA air traffic controller furloughs, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the small air traffic control towers across Georgia will be saved.
Seven air control towers in Georgia have been marked for closure because of the budget cuts set into motion by the sequester. There are 149 around the country that are in that position.
But WSB’s Jamie Dupree reports a person involved in the negation of the bill might not help those local towers.
Those on chopping block in Georgia are...
- Briscoe Field, Gwinnett County
- Charlie Brown Airport, Fulton County
- McCollum Airport, Cobb County
- Ben Epps Field, Athens
- Southwest Georgia Regional Airport, Albany
- Metropolitan Airport, Columbus
- Middle Georgia Regional Airport, Macon
The tower closures do not mean those airports will close. Instead of having air traffic controllers provide instructions for separation and pointing out other aircraft, pilots will have to fend for themselves in a procedure called “self-announcing.”
“In a high-density area like Atlanta, towers at airports like this are crucial,” Don Gunter, who has been a pilot for 45 years, told News/Talk WSB. “So if they close this control tower, I may elect to go to another airport that does have a control tower.”
Gunter flies a company jet out of McCollum Airport. Many companies like the one Gunter works for have safety plans that require them to operate from controlled fields – airports that have control towers. That would mean less traffic at airports like McCollum.
Dupree reports it looks like there is enough money lying around to save the towers, but he's told that's not the case.