NW Control Towers To Close After Federal Cuts

By Tom Bacon

Despite public outcries and stern warnings from lawmakers, the Federal Aviation Administration will shut down 149 airport control towers across the country, 13 of those in Idaho, Washington and Oregon.

As feared, Felts Field in Spokane is one of them.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said he heard from communities across the country about the importance of air traffic controls and "those were very tough decisions."

But Secretary LaHood said the closures were required under budget cuts mandated by sequester.  The aviation authority will begin shutdowns of the towers beginning April 7th.

In addition to Felts Field, affected airports in Washington include the Olympia Regional Airport, the Renton Municipal Airport, Tacoma Narrows and McAllister Field in Yakima.

In Idaho, the airports are in Idaho Falls, Lewiston, Pocatello and Hailey. The Oregon list includes facilities in Pendleton, North Bend, Salem and the Portland-Troutdale airport just east of Portland.

The tower closures will not force shutdown of any of the airport, but it means that pilots must rely on their own vision and judgment.
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