Will St. Pete Airport Lose Air Traffic Control?
The control tower at Albert Whitted Airport is slated to close April 7 because of federal cuts from sequestration, according to media reports.
The Albert Whitted Airport is on a list of 173 local airports that will lose traffic controllers because of spending cuts from sequestration, the Tampa Bay Times is reporting.
"It really is a bad idea what the government is doing here," said private pilot Jack Tunstill told the Times. Tunstill is on the airport advisory committee and is a flight instructor at the downtown airport.
According to the Times, the air traffic control tower will close April 7 unless a deal is struck by Congress to soften the automatic spending cuts.
The airport advisory committee has reached out to the St. Petersburg City Council for help and recommendations for lobbying Florida representatives in Washington, D.C.
Without air traffic controllers, pilots are forced to take off and land on their own, and will not have assistance from a trained professional in an air traffic control tower.
The downtown airport is largely used by private pilots, though corporate jets and a limited number of commercial flights also do business at the airport.
The airport has had a control tower since the 1960s, though there are a small number of private plane crashes each year, usually at takeoff or landing. The airport is right next to Tampa Bay on the southern edge of the downtown.
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