Lawsuits over Tower Closures Proliferate

Airport authorities seek legal recourse against looming closures.

Concord Regional Airport
Concord Regional Airport

The number of lawsuits against the FAA continues to grow as airport authorities attempt to fight back against the impending closure of 149 contract towers throughout the nation.

The trend began last week when a handful of leaders at airports like Felts Field in Spokane, Washington, and Naples Municipal Airport in Florida approved individual lawsuits against the FAA on the premise that they violate federal safety legislation.

Now, more than a dozen suits have been filed, with proponents arguing that the FAA has failed to conduct its own required safety reviews prior to deciding to close the towers, a failure they say isn’t excused by the financial constraints of sequestration.

At least 1,000 controllers throughout the United States will be forced to abdicate their positions when the closures begin to take place this Sunday. The cuts — part of the FAA’s effort to cut $627 million from its budget by the end of September — will affect contract towers at airports that see less than 150,000 takeoffs and landings per year. The FAA’s move will slash the number of contract towers throughout the nation by some 60 percent, saving the agency approximately $33 million in fiscal year 2013, according to FAA officials.