Ala. airports impacted by possible control tower cuts | News
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC)- Air traffic control towers across Alabama are facing closure due to the proposed cuts by the Federal Aviation Administration.
If the sequester goes through at the end of the month, Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood says he'll make other cuts first, but eventually he would be forced to cut air traffic controllers. That decision would delay flights across the nation.
Among the Alabama airports impacted by these potential cuts are Mobile Downtown, Dothan Regional and Tuscaloosa Regional airports.
Pilots like FOX6 Chief Meteorologist J-P Dice say they depend on the control tower to know what's going on around them. If the control towers are closed, air traffic controllers are out of a job.
"Without the help of air traffic controllers, pilots will be forced to rely on each other. Times for taking off and landing will be totally up to them, meaning communication between pilots is critical to safety," Dice explained.
"There's a lot of small airplanes in the air and when you get into some congested airspace, the likelihood of airplanes running together does increase when no one is managing it," he said.
If the control towers close, pilots will have to manage their own flights by radio.
"That requires a lot of all the pilots to be listening and be on their toes and you're not looking at a FAA controller to manage that," Dice said.
The cuts will have a bigger impact on smaller airports but larger ones like the Birmingham Shuttlesworth International Airport could feel an impact as well. The overnight shift at the Birmingham control tower could be going away as a part of these proposed cuts.
"Occasionally you may have a late flight. You could see some delays or cancellations because they don't have air traffic control," Dice said.
Without some action by Congress this week, these cuts will be implemented March 1.
Here's a list of air traffic control towers that could be closed:
Here's a list of the control towers that may have limited hours:
Official U.S. Department of Transportation blog on the impact of the sequester on air travel:
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