Airport Directors Sue Over Tower Closures

By Tom Bacon

Directors of Spokane airports are asking a federal court to halt the planned shutdown of the control tower at Spokane's general aviation facility, Felts Field.

The Federal Aviation Administration has announced it'll begin shutting down air traffic control towers at 149 smaller fields across the country because of spending cuts of 600-million dollars mandated by the sequester.

The Felts Field control tower is one of several in the Northwest ordered for closure. Photo from Spokane International Airport. http://www.spokaneairports.net/felts_main.htmBut Felts Field in Spokane, along with two other airports - one in Bloomington Illinois and one in Ormond Beach, Florida - have filed suit in the District of Columbia to stop the closures.

A Spokane Airports spokesman said the F-A-A failed to follow its own procedures for closing towers. He said the agency must follow specific steps in such situations.

The Spokane suit asks for a stay in the shutdown order, or for a temporary restraining order if the stay is not forthcoming. The Felts Field suit was combined with the other two for the federal court hearing.

The FAA closure order centered on air traffic control facilities where it contracts with private companies to monitor and control traffic.
The Felts Field control tower is one of several in the Northwest ordered for closure. Photo from Spokane International Airport. http://www.spokaneairports.net/felts_main.htm

The main Spokane International Airport tower was not affected by closure, but personnel will be cut back in the late night hours when traffic is light.

At least one state - Texas - has said it'll pony up state money to keep open 13 airports targeted for closure.
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