Not every air traffic control tower slated for shutdown will stop operating at once, according to an FAA list posted online by AOPA on Monday. The first group of 24 towers will close on April 7, another 46 on April 21, and 79 on May 5. The Lakeland, Fla., tower will remain open until April 21, giving the Sun 'n Fun organizers a respite from having to hire their own ATC staff for the event, which runs April 9 to 14. AOPA said the closing dates were based on activity levels, with the towers that handle the fewest commercial operations closing first. FAA spokesperson Laura Brown told AVweb on Tuesday the posted lists are "pre-decisional." She added, "We should have a final official list in the next day or so."
The FAA will close 149 federal contract towers beginning April 7, in response to sequestration's budget cuts, the agency announced Friday. The newly revised list is online here (PDF). The agency says closures will be phased in over a four-week period. At least 38 states are affected. Florida is one of the nation's most populous states and it also stands to hold the crown for most closures, served with 14 fewer towers unless changes are made before early May. The FAA says economic impact and threats to national security were considerations as they decided which towers to close. Some of the nation's most populous states hold top spots for the most closures, but one from that group will see very few.
The FAA was expected to announce Monday which control towers will close due to federal budget cuts, but now that announcement has been delayed until Friday, March 22. The FAA plans to eliminate funding for as many as 232 towers, most of them run by contractors, but operators of the affected airports were invited to make a case to the FAA why those measures would "adversely affect the national interest." Last Friday, FAA chief operating officer J. David Grizzle said the FAA has "received a very large number of responses" and needs more time to "review comprehensively the submission on behalf of each airport."
Popular aviation charts vendor Air Chart Systems has sent a notice to its subscribers that it's ceasing publication of the spiral-bound paper atlases that were its signature product for more than 50 years. In a note attached to the March 7 electronic update of en route charts and approach plates the company suggests it's out of the paper charts business. "Due to adverse business conditions and the increasing use of electronic charts, we will not be publishing our atlases or renewing next cycle," the note reads. The company says it will no longer mail hard copy updates either. The company has not responded to our repeated attempts to contact them for clarification of the note.