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FAA to close 149 air traffic towers under cuts

  • In this Nov. 26, 2012 photo, the air traffic control tower is seen at Southern Illinois Airport in Murphysboro, Ill. Under orders to trim hundreds of millions of dollars from its budget, the Federal Aviation Administration released a final list Friday, March 22, 2013, of 149 air traffic control facilities that it will close at small airports around the country starting early next month. The tower at Southern Illinois was included on that list. (AP Photo/The Southern, Joel Hawksley)

CHICAGO — Under orders to trim hundreds of millions of dollars from its budget, the Federal Aviation Administration on Friday released a final list of 149 air traffic control towers that it will close at small airports around the country starting early next month.

The closures will not force any of those airports to shut down, but pilots will be left to coordinate takeoffs and landings among themselves over a shared radio frequency with no help from ground controllers. Those procedures are familiar to all pilots.

Since a preliminary list of facilities was released a month ago, the FAA plan has raised wide-ranging concerns, including worries about the effect on safety and the potential financial consequences for communities that rely on airports to help attract businesses and tourists.

"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," FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in a statement.

Airlines have yet to say whether they will continue offering service to airports that lose tower staff. The trade group Airlines for America said its member carriers have no plans to cancel or suspend flights as a result of the closures.


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