FAA to close three airport towers in WV - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

FAA to close three airport towers in WV

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Air traffic control towers in Parkersburg, Lewisburg and Wheeling will close early next month as the Federal Aviation Administration cuts operations at smaller airports throughout the country.

The cuts spare tower operations at the state's larger airports. Tri-State Airport at Huntington has been listed as one where the FAA could remove air traffic controllers from the tower, and Yeager Airport at Charleston could lose controllers for its overnight shift.

The FAA announced March 22 that it will close 149 federal contract towers will close beginning April 7 as part of the agency's sequestration implementation plan. Contract towers control traffic at low-volume airports. The FAA will keep 24 federal contract towers open that had been previously proposed for closure because doing so would have a negative impact on the national interest.

The FAA will begin a four-week phased closure of the towers beginning on April 7.

While Tri-State has been spared in this round of cuts, its tower could still be closed, said Jerry Brienza, the airport's general manager.

"We're still on a list of towers that may potentially be closed," Brienza said.

Even if the tower were to close, passenger and cargo service at Tri-State would continue, he said. Traffic in and out of Tri-State would be controlled from Indianapolis, he said. The only difference would be that ground vehicles servicing flights and aircraft would be in touch with each other directly instead of communicating through the control tower, he said.

"It happens all the time across the country at other airports," Brienza said.

"It's definitely doable, but here's definitely some risk involved when you don't have one person controlling all movements of aircraft and vehicles."