As federal agencies scramble to cope with looming federal budget cuts, GA advocacy groups are pressing to minimize the impact on flight operations. NBAA President Ed Bolen this week asked FAA officials to consider more factors than simply the total number of operations at an airport in deciding which towers will close. For example, Tracon staffers would have to handle IFR traffic into those airports, adding to their workload, Bolen said. The shutdown of 173 control towers (PDF) is expected on April 7, with 16 more to close on Sept. 30. The FAA said it won’t take any more industry input on its tower-closure plan after today, and will announce a final decision on Monday, March 18.
AOPA President Craig Fuller wrote to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta this week (PDF), expressing concern and alarm over control-tower closings and cuts to services. Thomas Hendricks, president of the National Air Transportation Association, supported (PDF) a proposed amendment that would prevent the FAA from shutting down a disproportionate number of contract towers. Meanwhile, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and the Army’s Golden Knights skydiving team both have been grounded for the season, while the Navy’s Blue Angels have cancelled several upcoming shows.