Control towers at a handful of Kansas airports are among those that won’t be closed Sunday as part of federal spending cuts, known as the sequester.
“While airports and air travelers across the country are breathing a sigh of relief, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s decision to delay the closing of air traffic control towers is not a solution,” U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran said Friday in a press release.
The Federal Aviation Administration announced Friday it would delay closing 149 airport control towers — including two in nearby Johnson County — until June 15. Moran said he planned to introduce legislation next week to prevent the government from closing the towers, even on a delayed schedule.
“Closing control towers is equivalent to removing stop lights and stop signs from our roads, and there is no reason they should be disproportionately targeted for an arbitrary and unfair 75 percent cut,” Moran said. “It’s vital that we seize this opportunity to put politics aside and work toward a common-sense solution.”
Towers slated for closure in Kansas include those at New Century AirCenter in Olathe, Johnson County Executive Airport in Olathe, Philip Billard Municipal Airport in Topeka, Hutchinson Municipal Airport in Hutchinson and Manhattan Regional Airport in Manhattan.
Dodson International Parts, Inc., which is based in Rantoul, acts as a fixed-based operator for Johnson County’s New Century AirCenter, providing it such aeronautical services as fueling, maintenance, aircraft rentals and sales. Owner JR Dodson agreed with Moran’s sentiments that closing the towers would jeopardize air traffic safety.
“Would traffic still function? Yes. But would it be as safe? Probably not,” Dodson said previously.
Coupled with New Century’s proximity to the Johnson County Executive Airport and Gardner’s municipal airport, the towers’ closures could cause trouble for pilots, he said.
“It will have me on my toes a lot more,” Dodson, son of Bob Dodson, who owns Ottawa’s Dodson Aviation, said. “It will give me a little bit more trepidation, particularly in bad weather. ... Without control tower guidance looking for other traffic and everything it will certainly give you some trepidation when you’re close to the airport for fear of somebody that you don’t know about and haven’t been warned about.”