Decision prompted by safety concerns for pilots, communities

The Federal Aviation Administration has postponed its closure of the Troutdale Airport’s air traffic control tower, and nearly 150 others across the country, until June 15, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Troutdale's air traffic tower was scheduled to close on Sunday, April 21, as the result of $637 million in budget cuts to the FAA.

The closure is one of 149 air traffic control towers at small- and medium-sized airports across the country that were to take effect over a four-week period from April 7 to May 5, according to the FAA’s website.

Closures are the result of automatic budget cuts at government agencies, also known as sequestration.

Oregon will see four such closures at the Troutdale Airport, Southwest Oregon Regional Airport in North Bend, Eastern Oregon Regional Airport in Pendleton and McNary Field in Salem.

“This has been a complex process and we need to get this right,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Safety is out top priority. We will use this additional time to make sure communities and pilots understand the changes at their local airports.”

It remains unclear how the pending closure will affect operations at the Troutdale Airport at 999 N.W. Frontage Road in Troutdale, said Kama Simonds, a spokeswoman for the Port of Portland, which owns and operates the Troutdale Airport. “That (the delay) gives everyone a little more breathing room to figure out what they're going to do and what it looks like,” she said.

Port officials have said even with the sequestration budget cuts, they expect the Troutdale Airport — the state’s third busiest airport — to remain open but with some restrictions.

Private companies or contractors operate all the towers being shut down, not the government, according to

They also are general-aviation airports, which don’t serve major commercial airlines, but instead handle a range of flights, such as corporate jets, recreational fliers, charter planes and military flights. Many general-aviation airports already operate without air traffic control towers.

The Troutdale Airport is used by hobby pilots, instructors conducting flight training and for business class aviation. Last year, 93,000 planes took off from or landed at the airport, making it Oregon’s third busiest airport behind Portland International and Hillsboro airports – all of which the Port of Portland owns.

In addition, the Troutdale Airport complex houses 15 businesses that provide aviation related services such as fuel, repairs and aircraft instruments.

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