Closing air traffic control towers still possibility - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Closing air traffic control towers still possibility

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WFSB) -

Sequestration threatened to slash more than 1,000 jobs. However, last-minute grants will stop that from happening, but only temporarily.

The Federal Aviation Administration transferred "sufficient federal funds" through the Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013 to stop possible cuts that were a direct result of the Sequestration, according to a statement from U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal.

"The federal government can not lurch from crisis to crisis when it comes to air safety any more than any other vital service," he said.

The act will keep 149 air traffic towers functioning, including six in Connecticut slated to close in June.

It will also prevent "tens of thousands of FAA personnel" from  being put out of work, the statement said.

"The Federal Aviation Administration did the right thing today by confirming that these approved federal funds will indeed be used to keep open all 149 air traffic control towers, which are vital to air safety, jobs and local economies," said Blumenthal, who supported the act.

The act keeps Brainard Airport in Hartford, Groton/New London, Waterbury/Oxford, Tweed in East Haven, Sikorsky in Stratford and Danbury open until the end of the fiscal year, which is Sept. 30.

"The planned closures were unwise and unnecessary and would have caused harm to countless residents who work at these airports and the regional economies that depend on their services."

After the grants run out, there will be no more money to keep them open. The impact would be largely economical, but Chet Moore, who is an air traffic control manager at Groton/New London, said towers are able to accommodate a mixture of aircraft.

He said he feels there could be safety issues.

"When you have people who sometimes break the rules there is no one there to square them away, Moore said. "There is no one there to say you are not supposed to cut a Cherokee in front of a global express jet. It doesn't work."

It is unclear where the money to keep the towers open will come from. There has been talk of user fees at the airports, but people told Eyewitness News that is not a popular idea.

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