GA Groups Join To Lobby For New Orleans Tower

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The control tower at New Orleans Lakefront Airport was closed down by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and is still not back in operation. On Monday, the National Business Aviation Association, AOPA, and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association joined together to blast the FAA for "dragging its feet," and called for progress. The tower is "essential to safety and the economic recovery of New Orleans," the groups said in a joint news release. The field is growing busier, and a number of unsafe incidents have been reported, such as aircraft on the runway passing each other at high speed in opposite directions and pilots having to go around to prevent collisions on the runway. "The FAA can and must restore an operational control tower at Lakefront before an incident becomes an accident," said NATCA spokesman Darrell Meachum. NBAA President Ed Bolen said his group "is enormously supportive of efforts to revitalize and enhance Lakefront Airport." AOPA's Andy Cebula said that Lakefront used to be a vibrant GA community, with two flight schools and a lot of traffic. "Now, in addition to the tower, Lakefront's instrument landing system remains out of service," he said. "AOPA wants to see services that enhance safety for pilots who use Lakefront returned to pre-Katrina levels." The FAA initially had said it would provide a temporary mobile tower for the airport, but then said it would reopen the permanent tower instead. However, the FAA has not even begun substantive work on the tower, according to NATCA.