Gary, Columbus airport towers among FAA closures
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Air traffic control towers at airports in Gary and Columbus will be closed as the Federal Aviation Administration slashes hundreds of millions of dollars from its budget due to automatic federal spending cuts.
The FAA released a final list Friday of 149 air traffic control facilities that it will close at small airports around the country starting early next month. Gary/Chicago International Airport and Columbus Municipal Airport were on the list.
The closures will not force the shutdown of any of those airports, but pilots will be left to coordinate takeoffs and landings among themselves over a shared radio frequency with no help from ground controllers.
The Gary/Chicago airport in northwest Indiana is in the midst of a $162 million expansion aimed at helping it become the region's third major air hub behind Chicago's O'Hare and Midway airports. The Times of Munster reported the FAA rejected an appeal by the airport to keep its tower open.
But the airport's director, Steve Landry, told Chicago station WBEZ-TV on Thursday that planes already take off and land there without control tower assistance from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
"It will not affect the safety of the airport. It will however affect the efficiency of air traffic into and out of the airport," Landry said.
Commercial carrier Allegiant Air, which has two flights weekly from Gary to Florida, has said it will continue to fly into Gary despite the tower shutdown, Landry told The Times of Munster.
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