Concord, Hickory control towers axed by the FAA

Concord, Hickory control towers axed by the FAA

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by ELIZABETH THOMAS / WCNC.com

WCNC.com

Posted on March 22, 2013 at 3:06 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 22 at 7:27 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Federal Aviation Administration announced the list of control towers that will close due to massive government budget cuts.

On the list locally, the FAA contract control towers that will close are located at the Concord and Hickory Regional Airports.

The closures will begin April 7 as part of the FAA's sequestration implementation plan.

The Concord airport will remain open, and the tower will continue to operate for two months. The Concord City Council approved funding for that period of time, and an extensive analysis will be performed to determine the appropriate course of action.

Withouth the tower, smaller planes would still be able to land at the airport, but larger charter jets would have to land somewhere else.  This could cause problems for many NASCAR teams that are based in the area and use the airport.

"That would affect their operations, too, having to relocate somewhere else due to operational restrictions," said Airport Director Rick Cloutier.

Concord Regional is part of the tenth busiest airspace in the county.

"Electrolux came to Charlotte and uses our airport.  It was a big recruiting tool that they use and other companies use which benefit this region," said Scott Padgett.

In all, 149 federal control towers were announced for closure on Friday by the FAA.

Other control towers that will be shutting down regionally are Coastal Carolina Regional in New Bern, Smith Reynolds in Winston Salem, Kinston Regional Jetport in Kinston, Donaldson Center in Greenville, SC and Hilton Head Airport in Hilton Head, SC.

Twenty-four federal contract towers previously proposed for closure will remain open because closure "would have a negative impact on the national interest."

According to the FAA, an additional 16 federal contract towers under the "cost share" program will remain open because of a Congressional statue that sets aside funds for each tower every fiscal year.

“We heard from communities across the country about the importance of their towers and these were very tough decisions,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Unfortunately we are faced with a series of difficult choices that we have to make to reach the required cuts under sequestration.”

The FAA proposed the shut down of contract control towers to meet the $637 million in budget cuts as required under sequestration.

Communities have the option to participate in the FAA's non-federal tower program, but would assume the cost of continuedm on-site air traffic control services at their airport. The FAA says they're committed to facilitating the transition.

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