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More Lawsuits Over Tower Closures

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Last week, the city of Spokane, Wash., went to court to try to prevent the FAA's shutdown of an airport tower, and this week other cities are trying the same tactic. Lawsuits now have been filed by city officials in Bloomington, Ill., and the operators of three airports in Florida -- Naples, Ormond Beach, and Punta Gorda. The suits have all been combined together into one case, according to The Associated Press. Lawrence Krauter, director of Spokane International Airport, told the AP he expects more airports and possibly trade associations will join the legal challenge. The suits cite federal rules that require a thorough risk analysis prior to ATC changes. Meanwhile, 149 contract towers are scheduled to close April 7 through May 5, and pilots will need to be prepared.

PilotWorkshops this week offered its refresher program for non-towered airport operations free online. The program includes three short videos six to 12 minutes long. PilotWorkshops founder Mark Robidoux said, "While all of us are trained in these procedures, it's easy to become rusty if you aren't using a skill." When the towers close, he said, "There will suddenly be thousands of pilots flying into and out of airports that had ATC services one day, and none the next." AOPA's Air Safety Institute has posted a 14-page review of nontowered-airport procedures (PDF). AVweb editorial director Paul Bertorelli also has posted his own refresher and ends with some advice for pilots: "Just take a deep breath, relax and we'll all do fine."

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