Congressman Tim Bishop announced on Friday, March 22, that the Federal Aviation Administration’s contract control tower at Gabreski Airport will be spared from closure after the FAA determined keeping the tower open is in the “national interest.”
Bishop said the FAA’s decision was motivated by the vital homeland security mission of the 106th Air Rescue Wing, which is housed at Gabreski Air Force base and shares the airspace controlled by the tower with general aviation traffic including businesses, private aviation and air taxi services.
In early March, the FAA proposed closure of 189 contract air traffic control towers including Gabreski, as a part of its plan to meet the over $600 million in cuts required under the across the board spending cuts known as budget sequestration. After that announcement, Bishop expressed his concerns with the potential closure of the tower to FAA officials and welcomed the decision Friday to keep it operational.
“The preservation of FAA’s control tower at Gabreski is very welcome news to all of us who support the 106th Air Rescue Wing as well as the general aviation community who rely on the tower to safely guide aircraft in and out of the airport,” said Bishop.
If the control tower were shuttered, Gabreski would convert to “non tower” operations at all times, meaning that pilots would be solely responsible for the safe operation of aircraft. The airport currently operated as “non towered” only during night hours, with the tower guiding pilots in and out of the airport during daytime hours.
Gabreski joins 23 other FAA contract towers nationwide that will be kept open along with other towers that are partially funded by non-federal agencies. The FAA will close 145 contract towers over a four-week period beginning April7.