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Sun, Mar 31, 2013

Spokane Airport Board Sues FAA To Stop Tower Closure

Suit Claims Agency Failed To Exercise Legal Obligation To Assess Risks To Safety

Saying the FAA failed to exercise its legal obligation to assess the risks to safety that might be caused by the shutdown of air traffic control operations, the Spokane, Washington airport board has filed suit to stop the closing of the tower at the city's Felts Field. The suit was filed Monday, March 25 in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington reports Bloomberg.

Felts Field is a reliever facility for Spokane International Airport. With 52,000 takeoff and landings annually, it fell just under the average of 54,000 operations where the FAA drew a line in the sand when determining its budget cutting tower closures. Some 149 small and midsize airports are slated to lose air-traffic control services by contractors as part of the FAA’s plan to trim $637 million in spending under so-called sequestration.

In a March 22nd letter to FAA Administrator Micheal Huerta the board asked that he delay the closure while the court reviews its petition. However, if Huerta declines Larry Krauter, chief executive officer of the airport board, said “we will ask the court for a temporary restraining order.”

The letter argues that the FAA's own policies require it  "to assess the risks associated with significant changes to air traffic procedures” before “any such change is implemented, and which the FAA has entirely failed to apply in this action.”

The safety review is among legal obligations which “are not excused by the sequestration legislation,” according to the letter.

FMI: www.faa.gov, www.spokaneairports.net/board.htm

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