The Federal Aviation Administration has announced Easterwood Airport's tower is one of 149 that will close effective April 7.
The Texas A&M's airport tower is one of 13 in the State of Texas that will close as a result of the sequester.
The FAA announced 24 federal contract towers that could have been cut will remain open.
Around 20 airport managers in Texas whose towers were on the chopping block recently met in Austin with TxDOT officials as the sides worked to find possible solutions to the funding issues.
Statement from Texas A&M University President R. Bowen Loftin
“We are obviously disappointed by today’s announcement by the Federal Aviation Administration to close the air traffic control tower at Easterwood Airport, just as we are sure similar concerns are being expressed by other areas impacted by the decision. We will ensure procedures are in place to maintain a high level of safety and continued commercial airline service for our community. Air service is absolutely critical for a vibrant and growing community such as ours—and particularly for one that is home to a top research university. In the interests of public safety and our local economy, we are considering all options to maintain ongoing air traffic service for Easterwood.”
Federal Aviation Administration Press Release
WASHINGTON – Today, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reached the decision that 149 federal contract towers will close beginning April 7 as part of the agency’s sequestration implementation plan. The agency has made the decision to keep 24 federal contract towers open that had been previously proposed for closure because doing so would have a negative impact on the national interest.
An additional 16 federal contract towers under the “cost share” program will remain open because Congressional statute sets aside funds every fiscal year for these towers. These cost-share program funds are subject to sequestration but the required 5 percent cut will not result in tower closures.
“We heard from communities across the country about the importance of their towers and these were very tough decisions,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Unfortunately we are faced with a series of difficult choices that we have to make to reach the required cuts under sequestration.”
“We will work with the airports and the operators to ensure the procedures are in place to maintain the high level of safety at non-towered airports,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.
In early March, FAA proposed to close 189 contract air traffic control towers as part of its plan to meet the $637 million in cuts required under budget sequestration and announced that it would consider keeping open any of these towers if doing so would be in the national interest.
The national interest considerations included: (1) significant threats to national security as determined by the FAA in consultation with the Department of Defense or the Department of Homeland Security; (2) significant, adverse economic impact that is beyond the impact on a local community; (3) significant impact on multi-state transportation, communication or banking/financial networks; and (4) the extent to which an airport currently served by a contract tower is a critical diversionary airport to a large hub.
In addition to reviewing materials submitted on behalf of towers on the potential closure list, DOT consulted with the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, and conducted operational assessments of each potential tower closure on the national air transportation system.
Some communities will elect to participate in FAA’s non-federal tower program and assume the cost of continued, on-site air traffic control services at their airport (see Advisory Circular AC 90-93A.) The FAA is committed to facilitating this transition.
The FAA will begin a four-week phased closure of the 149 federal contract towers beginning on April 7.
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