FAA Closing 149 Air Traffic Control Towers On April 7th, Griffiss And Ithaca Among Them. Thank You Sequester.
And the results of the sequester continue to hit home in the world of aviation… Earlier this month military jet fly-overs at sporting events were banished and now the FAA plans to close 149 air traffic control towers by April 7th, including the one at Griffiss International Airport down the road here in Rome. They keep clipping our wings, when will it stop?
But we’re not the only one’s affected, read this from our neighbors in Ithaca:
“We are terminated. Our jobs are done,” says Doug Lewis, Air Traffic Manager at Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport in upstate New York, a contract facility. “That’s about 1,000 jobs around the country.” The closures will be phased in over four weeks beginning April 7.
Okay, so now that we’ve covered the job-loss angle, what does this mean for the safety of the pilots in the air over Rome? As a pilot for myself I can attest to the fact that safety isn’t necessarily going out the window here, but it’s nice for us to have an extra pair of eyes to keep us apprised of traffic closeby.
“If I or my guys were in the tower, you can bet your ass it would be safe,” says Ithaca’s Doug Lewis. Others have likened the tower closures to a city suddenly losing its stoplights. It doesn’t mean that crashes will happen, but pilots will have to be that much more vigilant.
But safety isn’t the only issue here… once the base was closed under President Clinton’s tenure, it took a lot to rebuild the airport and we even lost Oneida County airport in the process of consolidation. Now they want to take our tower? The businesses that now call Griffiss home are there under the understanding that there is a tower in operation. Once the tower closes, those aviation repair and maintenance companies may decide to jump ship too. This isn’t good news for pilots and non-pilots as while us flyers are losing those extra eyes, we all stand to take a hit in the pocketbooks from this one. Haven’t we had enough from the government just stepping in?