Concord airport control tower could close

Concord airport control tower could close

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by RAD BERKY / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @RadBerkywcnc

WCNC.com

Posted on February 28, 2013 at 11:23 AM

CONCORD, N.C. -- The across-the-board federal budget cuts -- called "sequestration" -- could mean the closure of the air traffic control tower at Concord Regional Airport.

Concord is one of two airports in the region that are on a Federal Aviation Administration list of 250 airports where towers could be closed if sequestration happens on Friday of this week.

The other airport tower is in Hickory.

If the towers close, veteran pilot Jones Stanley said it will still be possible to fly in and out.

"We're used to operating at airports without control towers. There are procedures that are different from if the tower is active," said Stanley.

The Concord Airport Director declined a request for an interview but Peter Franzese, from the city, issued a statement saying, "It is premature to speculate on the impact and options going forward that would be associated with such an action."

Unlike some smaller airports, Concord Regional is no grassy strip of runway.

Many of the NASCAR teams that are based in the area use the airport. In fact, the Roush Fenway team has its shop located right on the airport access road.

That means there are some sophisticated, high-powered jet aircraft looking around the sky for other traffic.

Pilot Harry Kuijpers said, "There are days like today looking into the sun when you don't see it and you want your instruments to tell you where they are, or an air traffic controller."

When there is no one in the tower, pilots land and takeoff after announcing their intentions on a special radio frequency.

After that, they are essentially on their own.

"It is still safe. It's just a little more work for the pilots to keep their heads up," Kuijpers said.

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