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5 control towers in NC to close

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The Federal Administration Association announced Friday it will close 149 regional airport control towers due to forced spending cuts.

The plan involves closing the listed towers over a four-week period beginning April 7.

Five North Carolina airports are listed. They include Coastal Carolina Regional in New Bern, Hickory Regional in Hickory, Smith Reynolds in Winston-Salem, Kinston Regional Jetport at Stallings Field in Kinston, and Concord Regional in Concord. 

Last month, the FAA released a list of nearly 200 towers facing potential closure, giving airport managers a few weeks to submit arguments for keeping them open.
The closures will not force the shutdown of any of those airports, but pilots will be left to coordinate takeoffs and landings among themselves over a shared radio frequency with no help from ground controllers under procedures that all pilots are trained to carry out.

The plan has raised concerns since a preliminary list of facilities was released a month ago. Those worries include the impact on safety and the potential financial effect on communities that rely on airports as key economic engines for attracting businesses and tourists.

"We will work with the airports and the operators to ensure the procedures are in place to maintain the high level of non-towered airports," FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in a statement.

The FAA is being forced to trim $637 million for the rest of the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. The agency said it had no choice but to subject most of its 47,000 employees, including tower controllers, to periodic furloughs and to close air traffic facilities at small airports with lighter traffic. The changes are part of the across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration, which went into effect March 1.
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