News
1:09 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Sequestration Hits a Triad Airport Tower

Credit Konabish ~ Greg Bishop via flickr Creative Commons

The control Tower at Winston-Salem’s Smith-Reynolds Airport will close down next month… a victim of budget cuts.

Airport Director Mark Davidson says the word came down just yesterday.  "It came down around 7 o’clock last night," Davidson told WFDD News, "I mean the official word from the FAA. We’ve been working with the United States Contract Tower Association trying to fight this off, but we got the official letter last night.”

The Federal Aviation Administration is making tower closures part of its plan to reduce costs by about 600-million dollars for the remainder of 2013.  Davidson says 5 people at Smith-Reynolds will lose their jobs,  and it’s apparently not a temporary fix unless they successfully file an appeal.

"It’s permanent," Davidson said,  "We have to demonstrate in a letter that we got from the FAA that the Smith-Reynolds tower is vital to the national interest, and they won’t take any consideration to local interest, so we’re going to draft up a response and demonstrate that we’re vital to the national interest of the transportation system.  It’s just kind of unique that several months ago,  I think it was 3 or 4 months ago, we were designated as one of the top 82 general aviation airports in the country  that served a national interest. And then we get this letter from them wanting to close our control tower down.”

Smith-Reynolds has more than 43-thousand take-offs and landings a year,  which, Davidson says, equates to about 120 a day, but that doesn’t average out to a certain amount per minute.

"It’s like rush hour traffic. It comes and goes.  For instance, like last month, we had one hour where our peak hour was 42 operations just in that one hour, so when you don’t have a control tower, sequencing and separation and things like that can get a little hectic here."

Davidson says he feels that cuts could have been made in other areas rather than by closing towers.  And, he says that even if they have to do without the tower, they’ll do the best they can to maintain the business they have, and to continue to expand as much as possible.

The tower at Winston-Salem's Smith-Reynolds Airport is closing. WFDD's Steve Biddle spoke with Airport Director Mark Davidson.