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The FAA can defend their position all they want, but the bottom line is this: The ultimate function of a Control Tower is to save lives. This decision was made with a complete understanding of the consequences. Sad.
The lead is missing the point. The FAA guidelines use 30 year old statistics because the study laying out criteria for opening control towers was written 30 years ago. Yes, let's update the criteria and decide if small and medium sized airports still need federally funded control towers. But let's use facts, not opinion.
The local angle is that (for now), two metro area "reliever" airports are slated to lose their towers, Saint Cloud and Anoka. I can't speak for STC, but I can tell you - I fly there - that Anoka absolutely does need a tower. The traffic mix ( jets, singles, students & piston twin freighters ) will make it challenging at busy times. The problem is the traffic levels are sporadic - quiet for an hour, and then you'll have 4 in the pattern and a Citation on 5 mile final.
The closures suggested by the FAA cut way too deep into busy general aviation airports. Yes, some can go, but for safety, some had better stay. Here's a ranked chart of closures. Anoka averaged just over 80,000 "operations" per year in 2012.
Texas has decided to pay themselves for the 13 airports the FAA has abandoned. Can Minnesota pick up the slack for ONE airport?
"In 1983, there were 10.7 accidents for every 100,000 departures involving small planes, business jets and other non-airline flights in the U.S., according to the National Transportation Safety Board. By 2011, the latest year for which figures are available, that rate had dropped to 6.5 accidents per 100,000 departures." - Could this be an indication that on-site control towers are effective in mitigating these incidents? So let's get rid of them.
What is actually happening, though it's hard to tell from this article, is that the FAA is under pressure to defend it's hasty decision to "sequesterize" and close 149 of the 250 contract control towers.
No safety review was done, other than raw operation count.
The study mentioned in the title is a very dry cost/benefit analysis which actually assigns a dollar value to the expected loss of life and compares it against the cost of opening a tower. Fine, let's update it, bearing in mind that the part-time contract towers cost much less to run than FAA towers.
None of the FAA towers will be closed as of now.
Seems like punishing the contract towers? Why not split the cuts with FAA and contract towers?
I can explain why the data was not updated. the FAA has a worse than dismal record when it comes to upgrades, data, security of computer stuff, and modernization in general. this matches about half of the government in general. reason: it's contractor-led. Beltway Bandit contractors do all the implementation, design, certification, and heavy lifting. it is not in their best interest to pile the papers, riffle through them, apply best industry standards, and crank out a recommendation in 30 days with a 120-day plan to get 'er done. an internal staff of IT wizards could meet those goals and hold a pizza party to celebrate.
"Seems like punishing the contract towers? Why not split the cuts with FAA and contract towers?"
..... because the FAA towers are staffed by FAA union employees with contracts. To close one of them is a 1+ year process. It may happen, but no sign of any intention yet. ( FAA reliever towers in the metro are Crystal and Flying Cloud. )
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