Regions impact with possible closure of Lewiston's Airport control tower

LEWISTON, ID - The unexpected news of possible closures came out of the clear blue sky for 238 air traffic control towers, these cuts are due to the growing federal deficit.

"It's paid for by the Federal Aviation Administration and so it's within their prerogative to open or close it at their discretion," said Lewiston-Nez Perce Co. Regional Airport Manager Robin Turner.

The air traffic control tower at the Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport is among the several hundred towers throughout the country that will close if the federal government cannot reach an agreement on how to avoid mandated spending cuts. Which means that, without their eyes on the sky, pilots will have to rely on the automated system.

"If any portion of that automated system goes down, there's no human backup in the air traffic control tower," said Turner.

National closures would quickly affect regions across the nation.

"It impacts the ability of the community to recruit additional business into town, business relies on professional corporate aviation," said Turner.

Corporate aviation is one aspect of the traffic in and out of the airport, but what about commercial aviation? Alaska, Delta, what about those carriers?

"The air traffic control center in Seattle bases it's decision whether or not to allow an aircraft to arrive based upon known traffic," said Turner.

And if the air traffic control tower isn't here then they have to take other safety precautions and the risk for that airliner heightens.

"Generally speaking airlines don't like to operate in an uncontrolled environment," said Turner.

While Turner said there's no immediate threat to lose those jet liners at this time, he reminds people that there are airports currently running without air traffic control.

If a budget agreement by the President and Congress isn't reached by Friday, airport towers could see closures as early as the end of this month.