2 N.C. air control towers spared from closure until June - Greenville, NC | News | Weather | Sports - WNCT.com

2 N.C. air control towers spared from closure until June

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The Federal Aviation Administration plans to delay closing more than a hundred air traffic control towers at small airports.
They will now stay open until June.
Those staying open include Coastal Carolina Regional Airport in New Bern and the Regional Jetport in Kinston.
They were set to close as early as this month due to federal budget cuts.  
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says safety is a top priority and says he will use the extra time to make sure communities and pilots understand the changes.c

--- Previous Story ---

The Federal Aviation Administration made the decision on Friday to close 149 federal contract towers.

The FAA will begin the closures April 7th to cut costs as part of the sequestration implementation plan. The agency is forced to cut $637 million from the annual budget of $48 billion, per congress. After April 7th, the 149 towers will close over the following four weeks.

Of the five air control towers to close, two are in eastern North Carolina. The control towers at New Bern (EWN) and Kinston (ISO) are on the list to close. The towers for Concord (JQF), Hickory (NKY) and Winston-Salem (INT) are also on the list to close.

A list of 189 lower volume air traffic control towers was expected. The final decision, from the FAA, to keep the other 40 towers open was made in the nations interest. The towers that are closing are operated by contracted employees. The pilots flying to any of the affected airports are responsible for correspondance with other aircrafts through radio. Pilots are trained to correspond by radio with other pilots.

--- Original Story ---

At least one airport in the east will soon lose its air traffic controllers.

Tom Braaten, the director of Coastal Carolina Regional Airport, tells 9 On Your Side that he learned by e-mail that the FAA was shutting down the tower at his airport.

It's scheduled to happen the end of the first week of April. And it's a result of sequestration, the federal budget cuts, squabbled over by the Obama administration and Congress for the last month. Obama signed off on the cuts last Friday.

The FAA will cut 189 out of 251 federal contract control towers across the country. Coastal Carolina is one of them.

4 contracted employees will no longer be working at Coastal Carolina. They're attached to Robeson Aviation, which supplies air traffic controllers to airports across the southeast.

This isn't the first time Coastal Carolina has operated without air traffic controllers. From 1981 – 1999, there were none stationed at the airport.

Braaten believes the airport will continue to operate fine without the controllers though.

Once Coastal Carolina's air traffic control towers close, pilots will take their direction from the Cherry Point air traffic controllers.


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