British pilots might be more accustomed to non-towered airports or landing strips than American pilots. But with the so-called sequester over in the States threatening to turn a number of towered airports into non-towered ones due to cuts in the rate of growth for government spending (otherwise known as austerity over in Britain), here is a quick compilation of the resources available if you find yourself flying into or out of a non-towered airport:
FAA to Delay Tower Closings Until June 15. The FAA was scheduled to cut off funding to the first of 149 towers nationwide on Sunday, but the latest news as of the end of last week is that no contract towers will close until June 15.
Lawsuits to Stop Tower Closures. Several airports had also apparently asked a federal court to stop the FAA’s plan to close contract air traffic control towers in a lawsuit accusing the agency of violating federal law meant to ensure major changes at airports do not erode safety.
FAA Guide for Pilots Affected by Tower Closures. The FAA has released a guide for pilots impacted by tower closures filled with more specific information regarding what will happen with tower equipment, operations, facilities and personnel. Of course, even the FAA admits the guide is incomplete as there is still a considerable amount of uncertainty as to what will happen. To read the full guidelines, click here.
Video Refresher for Non-towered Airport Operations. PilotWorkshops.com, which creates and sells a range of pilot proficiency program, has released a free video refresher program for non-towered airport operations. The program includes three short videos ranging from 6 to 12 minutes in length which can be viewed on any PC or mobile device.
Uncontrolled Airport Radio Communications. Jason Schappert, the blogger behind the MzeroA.com, has put together a short video to help pilots brush up on uncontrolled airport radio communications and operations.
Learning to Live Without Control Towers. Paul Bertorelli has also written a lengthy post for AVweb filled with additional tips for operating in and out of non-towered airports.
Do We Need This Control Tower? Ben Sclair, the publisher of General Aviation News, has written an op-ed to ask a question no-one else is asking in the sequester or tower closure debates which is: Do we need this control tower? He also quoted an aviation insurer as saying there are no regulations or insurance policies preventing aircraft from operating at a non-tower controlled airport.
Do You Feel Safe Flying Into a Non-Towered Airport? Brett Snyder of the Cranky Flyer blog has noted that while most of the towers scheduled to be closed are at smaller airports, there are some with commercial service. However, the Brett hasn’t heard anything about airlines walking away from an airport because the tower is closing. He then asked whether readers feel safe flying into a non-towered airport with a number of comments already posted that all tend to agree there is nothing to worry about. In addition, AVweb also has a more formal reader survey about what pilots think of tower closures.
Study Finds the FAA Could Save Billions. Finally, a new Reason Foundation study shows how the FAA could save $1 billion a year by simply consolidating air traffic control centers and Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) facilities as the director behind the study noted that the days of air traffic controllers needing to be right below specific portions of the airspace are over with. In other words, today’s technology allows air traffic controllers to guide planes from anywhere. So perhaps ATC in the States can even be outsourced to India for added cost savings!