Tuesday, April 02, 2013

FAA Closing Three Southwest Florida Aircraft Control Towers

Fort Myers, Punta Gorda, Naples Towers Closing

FORT MYERS, FL. -- The FAA says Page Field in Fort Myers, Florida, Punta Gorda Airport near Port Charlotte, and Naples Municipal Airport will phase out their air control towers beginning April 7. All three are so-called "contract" towers and plan to be phased out of operation over the next month.

The FAA subcontracts air control duties to private companies or in some cases the local government at some airports around the country that have smaller numbers of aircraft operations.

On February 22, 2013, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Federal Aviation Administrator Michael Huerta jointly announced the possible impacts of a budget sequestration on FAA operations. This announcement included notification of potential closure of over 100 air traffic control towers, with those impending closures beginning April 7, 2013.

The Punta Gorda and Naples airport authorities have planned to sue the government for a stay to keep the airport towers open, claiming that the government's decision was arbitrary and capricious. Airport operators around Florida are appealing to the state government for funding to keep their towers operational.

The FAA has subsequently released a list of 149 control towers that will be closed and the agency has made the decision to keep 24 federal contract towers open. The airports with closed towers will still be open for aircraft operations and will be designated "non-towered airports."

Most airports around the country actually do not have control towers. Some additional aeronautical experience is needed for pilots who requires takeoffs and landings at a towered airport.

Update: The Punta Gorda and Page Field tower closings have been delayed until June 15th.

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