State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

University Park Airport Tower Not on FAA Closure List

by on March 23, 2013 7:57 AM

The Federal Aviation Administration has decided to close control towers at 149 airports across the country, including three in Pennsylvania. But the tower at University Park Airport will remain open.

The airport towers being closed are called "contract towers" -- typically towers at smaller airports that the FAA helps fund. Contract towers are not staffed by FAA air traffic controllers. In many cases they're staffed by retired air traffic controllers or former military controllers. As a result, those towers are less expensive to operate.

Bryan Rodgers is the Director of University Park Airport. Rodgers says the decision to close contract towers is a result of the sequestration cutbacks imposed by congress. According to Rodgers, "We are not on the hit list because of the volume of air traffic at the University Park Airport. Many airports on that list are general aviation -- they don't have scheduled commercial airline service."

Delta, United Express and US Airways Express all fly commercial flights out of University Park Airport on Fox Hill Rd.

The U.S. Contract Tower Association says the closures, which will begin on April 7, raise serious safety, efficiency, and economic concerns that the FAA has failed to consider.

Rodgers echoes those sentiments. He says, "it's a real shame the FAA has taken an axe to a program that actually saves money. Contract towers enhance safety and provide decent-paying jobs."

Steve Bauer was the Managing Editor of Steve and his wife Trina are longtime area residents. They reside in State College along with a wacky Golden Retriever named Izzy.
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