The tower at Felts Field remained open this week – and should stay that way until at least June – under a revised plan announced by the federal government last Friday.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration announced March 22 it would delay the closure of Felts Field’s tower along with 148 others until June 15. Originally, the towers would have shut down on April 7 as part of a nationwide “sequestering” in order for the FAA to cut $637 million from its budget.
The additional time is for the FAA to resolve multiple legal challenges to the closure decision, including one filed by Spokane Airports.
“This has been a complex process, and we need to get this right,” Ray LaHood, U.S. Transportation secretary stated in Friday’s announcement to the press. “Safety is our top priority. We will use this additional time to make sure communities and pilots understand the changes at their local airports.”
As part of the tower closure implementation process, which is still planned to move forward, the FAA continues to consult with airports and operators to review risk factors. Extending the transition deadline would give the agency and airports more time to execute the changes to the National Airspace System.
Felts Field would not close as a part of that process. However, if air-traffic controllers are not manning the tower, pilots would be required to communicate with one another to determine positioning during takeoffs and landings.
The tower at Felts Field could also remain open should Spokane Airports choose to pay for its continued operation. The FAA said that approximately 50 airport authorities/stakeholders had indicated they may join the agency’s non-Federal Contract Tower program to fund the tower operations themselves.