FAA delays control tower closures

The Federal Aviation Administration said Friday it will delay the closures of air traffic control towers at Capital City Airport, Lancaster Airport, and 147 other small airports nationwide until June 15.

The air traffic control towers initially were to be shuttered during a four-week, phased closure beginning Sunday. The FAA announced last month it would eliminate funding for the towers as part of the agency's required $637 million budget cuts under sequestration.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Friday that the delay will give the agency more time to attempt to resolve multiple legal challenges to the closure decisions, and to execute the changes to the National Airspace System.

“This has been a complex process and we need to get this right,” LaHood said in a news release. “Safety is our top priority. We will use this additional time to make sure communities and pilots understand the changes at their local airports.”

LaHood added that the phased closure process will no longer occur. Instead, the FAA will stop funding all 149 towers on June 15 and will close the facilities unless the airports decide to continue operations as a nonfederal contract tower.

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