Some of the Northwest’s smaller communities are putting backup plans in place, now that the FAA has announced plans to close more than one hundred air traffic control towers across the country.
Thirteen small airfields across Oregon, Washington, and Idaho are on the list of airfields that will lose F.A.A. staffing for their control towers.
Eastern Oregon Regional Airport is one of them.
Pendleton Mayor Phillip Houk says regional leaders have been counting on having a functional airport as a linchpin to economic development.
“Up at the airport, that’s kind of our new industrial yard,” Houk says. “We’ve been developing a new five mile road there, working toward getting infrastructure in place … it’s next to air service, so there’s some real opportunities there.”
View Slated Northwest Tower Closures in a larger map
Houk says while most pilots are well-versed in procedures they’ll have to follow with no tower staff in place, he’s concerned the loss will adversely affect some applications pending with the F.A.A. for different kinds of drone flights. And he says, the airport’s traffic is safer with a tower.
Community leaders with airfields affected by the closures are asking the Oregon Congressional delegation to lobby the FAA to keep the towers open.
Closures would take effect April 7th.