Sequestration may close Columbia airport control tower

Mar 1, 2013

The F-A-A says that if budget talks in Washington fail, 168 air traffic control towers across the country could be forced to close.

If that happens, Columbia Regional Airport would remain operational, but would need to make procedural changes. Public Works Representative Steven Sapp says this includes using Mizzou Approach in Springfield as the communication center for takeoffs and landings in Columbia.

Many airports rely on other control towers, but that there are drawbacks.

"Often times we have large flocks of birds, and they’ll typically hold aircraft if they see a flock of those birds in the area  until they’re clear from the approach or departure path. That likely can’t be done from hundreds of miles away," Sapp says.

But Sapp says Columbia Regional Airport has not yet received official notice of a tower closure date.

"If those budget cuts come about, then certainly we will make comment that we want to ensure the safety flying out of Columbia Regional, and I don’t think at this point that anyone should have any concerns about their safety when flying out of Columbia Regional," Sapp says.

The F-A-A says budget cuts and TSA agent downsizing also hinge on Congress’ ability to make a budget deal.  The Columbia Regional Airport traffic control tower remains operational. Sapp also says that if the F-A-A budget cuts were to take place, the cuts are likely to be spread throughout a 60 to 90 day period.