Bolton Field, Don Scott Could Lose Air Traffic Control Towers

A letter signed by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood warned of travel delays for the public, furloughs for the FAA's 47,000 employees, and the closing of more than 100 air traffic control towers around the country.(Photo: Flickr)
A letter signed by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood warned of travel delays for the public, furloughs for the FAA's 47,000 employees, and the closing of more than 100 air traffic control towers around the country.(Photo: Flickr)

Two smaller airports in Columbus could lose their entire air traffic control staffs due to the federal budget cuts known as sequestration.

The control towers at Bolton Field and the Ohio State University Airport, also known as Don Scott Airport, could go dark in a bid by the Federal Aviation Administration to trim $600 million from its budget for the remainder of the fiscal year.

A letter signed by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood warned of travel delays for the public, furloughs for the FAA’s 47,000 employees, and the closing of more than 100 air traffic control towers around the country.

The letter says airports with fewer than 150,000 flight operations a year might see their control towers shut down.

The OSU airport has about 100,000 flight operations a year.

“We received notification from the FAA letting us know that we were on a list to have our contract air traffic control tower closed,” says Jennifer Cowley, an associate dean in OSU’s College of Engineering, which oversees the airport.

This is all part of the federal sequestration and as you know, the sequestration requires certain cuts. And the FAA is choosing to make this one of the areas that they would cut.

The OSU Airport might take a financial hit if pilots decide to use other facilities. But Cowley says it’s not known yet what the financial consequences will be, or how long they might last.

“It’s not clear yet from the FAA whether or not these tower closures would be permanent.”

The FAA is asking the potentially-affected airports to respond to the proposed personnel reductions.

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