Government sequester could force hundreds of traffic towers to shut down

The Troutdale Airport is on a Federal Aviation Administration list of air traffic control towers that could close as a result of automatic spending cuts that took effect March 1.

Five small Oregon airports are among more than 100 facilities nationwide also facing closures starting in April.

In a letter to airport managers, the FAA outlined other cuts that would reduce expenditures by about $600 million for the remainder of the 2013 fiscal year.

Those included furloughs for nearly 47,000 FAA employees and eliminating midnight shifts for more than 60 towers nationwide.

The FAA is still finalizing the details of its plan and will decide which towers to close by Monday, March 18.

State Rep. Chris Gorsek, D-Troutdale, said this closure was preventable, but now the safety of pilots using the airport is in jeopardy.

“I am disheartened by the news that the air traffic control tower at Troutdale Airport could be closed due to automatic spending cuts that Congress could have prevented,” he said. “The people of Oregon are not to blame for the economic gridlock in our federal government, and the closure of this small, local facility is unacceptable. Without tower staff, there could be a real risk of a decrease in safety for the numerous pilots that fly out of the Troutdale Airport.

“A solution is needed, and Congress must end the sequester as soon as possible.”

In 2012, 93,465 planes took off or landed at the Troutdale Airport, and 15 businesses operate on the site.

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