FAA Won't Shut Down Small Air Traffic Towers

By Tom Bacon

A whole gaggle of lawyers all primed and cocked to fight over closure of several small airports across the country - including Felts Field in Spokane - suddenly found themselves Friday with nobody to swing at.

The FAA abruptly reversed its planned shutdown of the small towers run by outside contract traffic controllers.  The closure order would have affected Felts field and four other airports in Washington, plus four each in Idaho and Oregon.

To forestall the shutdown, the Spokane airport board filed suit, and dozens of similar cases from Florida westward were combined into that one by judges of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals who were scheduled to hear opening skirmishes on June 5th.

But the legal issues are now moot, since the FAA agreed with politicians clamoring to keep the airport control towers open, since they allowed the aviation agency to move 253-million dollars from other functions to prevent furloughs.

The furloughs and tower closures were ordered because of the automatic spending cuts in the current fiscal year called sequestration. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the fund transfer will allow the FAA to keep the 149 contract towers open for the rest of the fiscal year.
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