Tower Closing Criteria Detailed
If the tower at the local airport was supposed to be closed but wasn't it's because someone convinced the FAA that closing it would pose a threat to national security. At least 24 towers that would normally have been closed under the mathematical limits set by the agency before sequestration took effect (fewer than 150,000 movements and fewer than 10,000 airline operations annually) were spared the budget axe and Government Executive Magazine posted a list of four main criteria that interpret national security in a variety of ways.
The airports that were spared proved to the FAA that closure would pose a direct threat to national security in its usual definition; that closure would result in adverse economic impact beyond the local community; that closure would have a significant impact on multi-state transportation, communication or the financial system; or that the airport is an essential alternate for a major hub. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said a lot of airports made persuasive cases but the majority failed because the funding cut has to come from somewhere. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said the suddenly towerless airports will get some attention in the transition "to ensure the procedures are in place to maintain the high level of safety at non-towered airports."