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Indiana Airport Execs Make The Case For Control Towers

New funding allows municipal airport control towers to stay open through September, but their long-term fate is still uncertain.

control tower

Photo: Stan Jastrzebski/WFIU News

The Columbus Municipal Airport Tower was set to close at the end of September.

Airport executives from Monroe County Airport and Columbus Municipal airport spoke their piece about the importance of air traffic control towers over their runways to representatives on Capitol Hill.

The executives feel they have accomplished a lot through their meetings, but still fear for the future of their air traffic control towers.

Airport executives Bruce Payton from Monroe County Airport and Brian Payne from Columbus Municipal airport say the sequestration cuts that could shut down their air traffic control towers are “unfair and unbalanced”.

Payton says he asked delegates to urge the FAA to come to the bargaining table with the United States Contract Tower Association.

“Seventy-five percent of their cuts came from air traffic, as compared to the percentages, very small percentages from some of the other agencies and branches from the Federal Aviation Administration’s budget,” he says.

While in Washington, D.C. last week, Payne and Payton talked to representatives about the importance of air traffic control over their runways and what it does to the Monroe County and Columbus local communities, surrounding universities, big businesses like Cummins and Cook, and military bases. They also lobbied for funding for the 2014 fiscal year.

On Tuesday, the U.S. House Department of Transportation and FAA appropriations subcommittee submitted a 2014 budget draft, allotting $140 million to fund 251 towers. This will ensure operations through September.

Payne says even though the budget draft looks positive, they will continue to seek out other avenues for tower operation.

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