FAA to close Columbia air traffic control tower May 5

Unless funding is restored, the tower will end operations this May.

The Federal Aviation Administration plans to cease funding for the air traffic control tower at Columbia Regional Airport starting May 5.

Unless funding is restored, the tower will end operations on or shortly after May 5, according to a news release.

Mayor Bob McDavid requested that the city staff provide a report for council in the coming weeks regarding the possible safety impacts of losing the tower.

The Columbia tower is one of 149 control towers in the nation that will lose funding between April 7 and May 5.

The agency decided to keep 24 towers open that had been proposed for closure because doing so "would have a negative impact on the national interest," according to an FAA March 22 news release.

The air traffic control tower at Jefferson City Memorial Airport will not lose funding. National interest considerations that the FAA took into account included: "significant threats to national security as determined by the FAA in consultation with the Department of Defense or the Department of Homeland Security; significant, adverse economic impact that is beyond the impact on a local community; significant impact on multi-state transportation, communication or banking/financial networks; and the extent to which an airport currently served by a contract tower is a critical diversionary airport to a large hub," according the news release. Several airports scheduled to lose funding have filed a lawsuit this week with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington.

The funding losses are part of the FAA's sequestration implementation plan to counter budget sequestration in Washington. The FAA planned to reduce expenditures by roughly $600 million for the rest of the fiscal year, according to an FAA news release. The foremost mission of the FAA is to transport passengers safely, according to an FAA news release last Wednesday. With no controller services in the area, the airport will rely on coverage from towers in other nearby cities. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., will visit Columbia Regional Airport to tour the air traffic control tower at 3:30 p.m. Friday. The event will be open to the public.

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