Transportation Commission approves funding of air traffic control towers

Fourteen municipal airports across Texas to lose federal funding starting April 7 for air traffic control services

Thursday, April 4, 2013 - 2:26pm

Recognizing the importance of air traffic safety at municipal airports, the Texas Transportation Commission today approved funding to pay for the continued operations of air traffic control towers at 14 airports in Texas. Currently, 21 percent of aircraft take off and land at these towered airports in Texas. Cuts in federal funding for air traffic control services at 149 facilities nationwide are scheduled to begin in phases starting next week.

“Safety is our top priority and I am glad we’re able to keep these critical air traffic control services operating,” said Texas Transportation Commissioner Fred Underwood. “As a pilot, I know firsthand how critical these services are to the safety of air traffic.”

“I applaud the commission for taking this action as it was the right thing to do for Texas,” said TxDOT Executive Director Phil Wilson. “The commission’s action today will allow these communities to partner with TxDOT during this period of transition while longer-term solutions are being evaluated and considered.”

Air traffic control towers help guide more than 65,000 flights each month at Texas municipal airports. According to pilots, the towers provide a much-needed layer of safety. When air traffic control towers are not used, a “see and avoid” method is implemented in which pilots make their own decisions about landing and taking off. According to aviation experts, this “see and avoid” practice is less safe at municipal airports where larger aircraft mix with smaller aircraft and helicopters.

“Air traffic control towers are critical to the safety of pilots and passengers,” said Lenny Llerena, New Braunfels Regional Airport director and commercial pilot. “The New Braunfels Regional Airport depends on its air traffic control services. We are grateful for the Texas Department of Transportation for funding our tower and making flight safety a priority.”

Today’s decision by the Commission will provide approximately $2 million for the following 14 airports for 90 days:

New Braunfels (BAZ); Brownsville (BRO); Easterwood Field College Station (CLL); TSTC Waco (CNW); Lone Star Executive Houston (CXO); Georgetown Muni (GTU); San Marcos Muni (HYI); Dallas Executive (RBD); Sugarland Regional  (SGR); Stinson Muni San Antonio (SSF); Collin County Regional (TKI); Tyler Pounds Regional (TYR); Texarkana (TXK) ; and Victoria Regional (VCT).
 

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