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FAA Offers Advice For Switch To Tower-Free Ops

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On Tuesday, the FAA issued a safety notice noting that since 149 contract towers will close starting this Sunday, April 7, it is important for pilots "to increase our awareness of proper operating practices and procedures at airports without an operating control tower." The FAA suggested that pilots should always check Notams prior to flight, communicate, stay alert, and continually scan for traffic. Traffic may include jets and helicopters that are not accustomed to "standard traffic patterns" at your airport, the FAA said. You also may be sharing the pattern with non-radio-equipped aircraft or ultralights. Also, towered airports may see an increase in activity, particularly students who are required to practice certain procedures at a field with a tower. This will necessitate "diligent planning" on the part of training providers, instructors, and students, the FAA said.

The FAA also suggested that pilots spend some time with an instructor improving their knowledge and skills for non-towered-airport operations. Online resources that provide advisory information for operations at airports without an operating control tower include the FAA Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) (PDF); Advisory Circular 90-66A (PDF); Basic Right of Way Rules (CFR 91.113); and Traffic Flow Rules at Non-Towered Airports (CFR 91.126 and CFR 91.127).

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