COLUMBIA - The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) spent Friday preparing for the possible budget sequestration. If Congress doesn't work out a deal, the FAA would need to cut $600 million for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2013. To cut back, the FAA plans to close more than 100 air traffic control facilities across the nation. Five Missouri airports are on the list to cut, including Columbia Regional and Jefferson City Memorial airports. The tower at Columbia Regional Airport is staffed by four FAA employees, and Jefferson City has five.
Columbia Public Works Spokesman Steven Sapp said a closing of the Columbia Regional tower is still uncertain. "It's just a waiting game to see what actually happens and when," said Sapp.
If the FAA closes the air traffic control towers, Columbia Regional and Jefferson City Memorial will utilize MIZZOU Approach Control based out of Springfield, to monitor arriving and departing aircrafts. "We don't think it will have any immediate effect on flights," said Sapp. "What will happen if the tower is taken offline, is that pilots will need to be a bit more vigilant in what they're doing." Pilots would work with MIZZOU Approach Control and use the Common Traffic Advisory Frequency to communicate with other pilots.
Sapp said one advantage of using the tower at Columbia Regional is to monitor large flocks of birds, a task MIZZOU Approach can't do from Springfield. Sapp said Columbia Regional is in the flight path of Canadian geese and snow geese.
"It's a little frustrating," said Sapp, "But we're confident no matter which direction it goes, we'll work through it and Columbia Regional will be a viable airport that will have safe, reliable air traffic."