Mar 22, 2013 6:15 PM

FAA to close control towers at 4 Arizona airports, including Ryan Airfield

PHOENIX (AP) - The Federal Aviation Administration says it will close air traffic control towers at four small airports in Arizona due to federal budget cuts.

The agency announced its decision Friday. It came a month after the FAA released a preliminary list of 238 facilities nationwide with low traffic volumes and control towers operated by contractors that faced closures.

On the list of 149 air traffic control towers to be shut down beginning April 7 are the ones at Glendale Municipal Airport, Phoenix Goodyear Airport, Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport in Bullhead City and Ryan Field in Tucson.

The FAA says the airports will remain open. However, pilots would have to coordinate takeoffs and landings themselves via radio and visual contact, as they do now at night when the tower isn't open.

The following is a statement from Ryan Airfield:

On March 5, the FAA announced that the air traffic control tower at Ryan Airfield was one of 189 towers throughout the U.S. (one of four in Arizona) that would close April 7 as a result of the federal government's budget sequestration. The Tucson Airport Authority petitioned the FAA to keep Ryan's tower open, with help from southern Arizona's congressional delegation and local elected officials. On March 22, the FAA released a final control tower closure list and Ryan Airfield is one of 149 airports where towers will be closed through a four-week phased process beginning April 7. All four Arizona airports appear on the list for closure.

The Tucson Airport Authority is grateful to our area's elected representatives for their assistance and support in making our case for keeping Ryan's tower open. We are disappointed in this decision given the significant safety and economic benefits the tower contributes to our community and southern Arizona.

Ryan Airfield will remain open despite the closure of the control tower. Pilots will use UNICOM, a communications frequency used at uncontrolled (non-towered) airports for weather and navigational information. The airport's Instrument Landing System (ILS), Distance Measuring Equipment (DME), and Runway End Identifier Lights (REIL) will remain available and continue to be maintained.


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