Archive for April, 2013

Tower Closings at Airports

Posted on: April 26th, 2013 by Steve Short No Comments

There has been a lot of talk on the news lately about tower closings at airports. They’re saying that it will create all sorts of air traffic delays. The media, of course, loves this sort of thing because it’s easy to exaggerate to a point that will catch the public’s attention so we will read or watch their news. The real story has been blown way out of reality.

The real truth is that very few people will be affected by tower closings. Those that will be affected by it will not be affected often. Aircraft that have to fly above 18,000 ft. (jets) at affected airports will be affected much more often than those that usually fly visual flight rules (VFR). If you’re flying out of and into any of the medium or larger sized airports, like Albany, you won’t experience delays due to the proposed tower closings.

The only proposed tower closings among the airports that AFS uses somewhat regularly are Morristown, NJ (MMU) and Bridgeport, CT.  Even with the tower closings, the only delays I would expect there would be bad weather on Friday afternoons when AFS has to fly with a clearance on instrument flight rules (IFR) and there tends to be a lot of traffic.  On very busy days I would expect it to actually save time because the towers can slow operations down, especially at MMU.

There have been some concerns that this is a safety issue, but I don’t see this is a factor. I actually feel safer flying in and out of busy airports that have NO tower. It’s not uncommon at a towered airport for the tower to tell 5 different airplanes to report entering the same spot in space, usually on down wind for landing.  There is no reason that they could not arrive there all at the same time.

The pilots in this situation are not allowed to communicate to each other. They can ask the tower about the traffic but that inserts a middle man that may not be nearly as concerned about the traffic as you and the other pilots are. You just have to hope that the tower has their A team working you at the moment. With no tower, the pilots communicate and coordinate among themselves which not only eliminates the the middle man but also assures that you’re talking to people that want to stay away from you as much as you want to stay away from them.

In conclusion, DON’T FRET THE TOWER CLOSURES.  If they even happen they are unlikely to make any significant differences.