Facing $600 million in spending cuts for this fiscal year due to sequestration, the FAA announces 149 airports across the country will now have to close their air traffic control towers. That includes Lynchburg Regional. It's the only Virginia airport on the list. Greenbrier Valley Airport in West Virginia will also be closed.
Closing the control tower now is horrible timing, says manager Mark Courtney, since things are taking off at the Lynchburg Regional Airport,
Commercial airlines, private planes and Liberty University's aeronautics school will feel the impacts. David Young, the dean for the school, says they are working together with the airport since their students use it every day.
"Our primary concern is safety and that is what we are working towards, not only training our students but making sure it is a safe environment," Young says.
Starting April 7, control towers will turn off the lights. Lynchburg still waits for their official date and prepares for the impacts.
Courtney says procedures are in place already to operate without a tower. They will also work together with Roanoke Regional Airport with their radar system. But working with another tower will cause you some problems. The delay in handling air traffic means more time on the tarmac, but it won't be hours.
"Knowing our system here, our air traffic volume, and the way the system works, I don't expect delays anything close to that," Courtney says.
In the meantime, Lynchburg hopes to come up with a plan and find alternative sources of money to reopen the control tower, and bring everything back up to speed.