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FAA May Close Sikorsky Air Traffic Control Tower

As part of a goal to cut $600 million in costs during 2013 because of federal budget Sequestration, the FAA is making plans to close six towers in Connecticut, including Sikorsky in Stratford.

Six airport towers in Connecticut, including Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford, are scheduled to close in April because of the federal budget impasse.

The Federal Secretary of Transportation sent letters on Feb. 22 to airports, trade associations and others saying the sequestration (partial government shutdown) will also lead to longer flight times because of fewer air traffic controllers.

"Flights to major cities like New York, Chicago and San Francisco could experience delays of up to 90 minutes during peak hours because we will have fewer controllers on staff," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood wrote to the Department of Defense, Airlines for America, the National Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, among others.

In his letter, LaHood wrote the agency will have to cut $600 million because of the sequestration, and that may mean closing 100 air traffic control towers nationwide. The smaller airports will lose their towers, those airports with fewer than 150,000 take-offs and landings a year. It will also lead to furloughs for 47,000 FAA employees of one day per pay period, but up to as many as two days per pay period between April and September.

"We also expect that as airlines estimate the potential impacts of these furloughs, they will change their schedules and cancel flights," LaHood wrote.

LaHood's letter includes a list of all the airports likely to lose their air traffic control towers in April. In Connecticut, those are Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford, Danbury Municipal Airport, Groton-New London Airport in Groton (New London,) Hartford-Brainard in Hartford, Tweed New Haven in New Haven, and Waterbury-Oxford in Oxford.

Robert Chambers February 25, 2013 at 01:23 PM
Block Island Airport doesn't have a control tower and does way more operations per year than Sikorsky. This isn't armageddon it's grandstanding with a president and congress that won't adopt some fiscal sense by not spending more money than they bring in.
CuriousOrange February 25, 2013 at 01:57 PM
I didn't know that Block Island has commercial flights. Can scheduled airlines still fly out of Sikorsky, Tweed, etc. without a manned tower? I think that Congress needs to cut subsidies to corporations that offshore jobs, reap huge profits from oil, and dodge taxes via legal loopholes. The utra-rich, who buy many benefits from government, should also pay more than they do now.
Mike February 25, 2013 at 04:14 PM
Does this mean, that, after the airport is expanded, they can't fly jumbo jets into and out of Sikorsky? That kind of defeats the purpose of extending the runways.
Shirley B. Backus February 26, 2013 at 02:40 AM
After cramming unwanted "safety improvements" down our throats, the FAA now chooses to close the control tower. It's obvious that the FAA isn't interested in safety at all. Their only goal is money. For safety reasons, we need the control tower far more than safety zones that put motorists at greater risk by moving Main Street. We should skip the safety zones and keep the tower, but that wouldn't give Bridgeport the extra land they want, and it wouldn't give the FAA the satisfaction of getting their way against Stratford's wishes again.
Michael February 27, 2013 at 03:50 PM
There seems to be quite a lot of misinformation here. Mr. Chambers, Block Island has no where near the amount of the traffic Sikorsky Memorial gets. Block Island has an average of 47 aircraft operations a day-- compared to Sikorsky's average, 147 aircraft operations a day. Plus, Block Island has 1 small runway, almost half the size of Sikorsky's two runways! CuriousOrange, Block Island doesn't have commercial flights and neither does Sikorsky Memorial airport. These are mainly private flights by private individuals or charter companies flying people privately. The issue is not about commercial flights but the fact that the FAA is firing controllers that help separate and keep aircraft safe above the busy class D Sikorsky Memorial airspace. Mike, the airport is not being expanded. The runway is actually being shortened and they are adding a non-usable porous concrete structure called a Runway Safety Area. This is meant to get rid of the ridiculous blast fence and if there was an instance where a plane was unable to stop on the runway, it would sink into the porous concrete stopping it immediately. Ms. Backus, The FAA is a government run agency and doesn't make any money so i'm unsure of what you mean. The goals of the safety improvements were just that-- to make the airport safer for the passengers and citizens of Stratford. Also, Bridgeport gave up all of it's land around the airport, and Stratford is in control now. Hope this clears up everything!
Shirley B. Backus February 28, 2013 at 12:24 AM
i thought I saw a recommendation that the blast fence could be made of material that would crumble, much like the proposed "safety zones," but it was ignored. I don't believe moving Main Street is a good idea. It puts this busy road farther into the fog zone, making it more dangerous for motorists. There are far more motorists using Main Street than there are pilots who are prone to pilot error, which has been the reason for every plane crash in this area.
Shirley B. Backus February 28, 2013 at 12:27 AM
Also, I remember an agreement between Sikorsky and Stratford that, if we granted them the last expansion, that they would ask for no more. Okay, I realize that the runway itself would be no longer, but taking up more space is indeed an expansion (check your dictionary!).
Michael March 02, 2013 at 06:29 AM
No, there is no more space being taken up Ms. Backus-- Check your facts. It is in fact REDUCING the usable runway length that aircraft can use. It will modernize a very poorly engineered road that will prevent flooding. Isn't everyone who drives into Lordship sick of going past the "Water On Road" sign already? I know I am! Also, with your reasoning, it seems that because the residents of Lordship live in a 'fog zone' then they should definitely not drive there and abandon the area-- it's definitely not safe and driver error will cause them to crash off the road. Obviously i'm being sarcastic, but get real Ms. Backus...
Shirley B. Backus March 03, 2013 at 04:42 AM
Again, supporters of the safety zones miss my point. They refuse to count the safety zones are part of the runway. If the runway doesn't need more space, why do we have to move Main Street? It's because the safety zones add to the space that the runway takes up, even though the safety zones are not comprised of a usuable runway surface. The only reason Sikorsky insists on excluding the safety zones from the overall length of the runway is because they agreed they wouldn't ask for more expansions after Stratford granted them the last one. I wasn't referring to all of Lordship when I refered to the fog on that troublesome corner. Moving Main Street closer to the shoreline will increase the density of the fog along that road. There are other ways to fix the flooding, but Sikorsky is looking for a freebie from the FAA who also agreed to repave their runway if they installed the safety zones. Look beyond the usuable portion of the runway - it'll be longer than you think.

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