EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Latest News

May 11, 2013

Control tower can continue operating for now

NORTH ANDOVER — The control tower at Lawrence Municipal Airport has gotten another reprieve from a possible shutdown.

Airport Manager Michael Miller said he received an email from a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) official yesterday announcing that the tower would continue to operate, at least through Sept. 30 — the end of the federal government’s fiscal year.

“I’m very elated with this news,” Miller said yesterday.

“It’s great that Congress has stepped up to keep the control towers around the country open through the balance of the the year. I feel that cooler heads will prevail and funding will be made available because control towers are important to safety and should not be eliminated,” Miller said.

The FAA announced in March that it would eliminate funding for 149 airport control towers around the country as part of the agency’s required $637 million in forced spending cuts. But early last month — just two days before the tower closures were to begin, phased in over a four week-period — airport officials learned the shutdowns were delayed until June 15.

“I know the budget is in a state of flux right now, but the tower chief has indicated that the funding is in the proposed budget for the next fiscal year,” Miller said.

“So, I’m optimistic,” Miller said.

But Paul Nugent, the air traffic control tower chief who has worked at the airport for close to 17 years, remained cautious in assessing the future of his job and five full-time air traffic controllers he supervises.

“It’s been an emotional roller coaster for the last several months and I think it will continue to be that way until the end of September,” Nugent said last night.

“But right now, I’m grateful that we will be able to continue at least until then. There will be time to look at the budget for the 2014 fiscal year. I think we provide a vital role in making sure the airport is safe for all the people who use it,” he said.

“We run 52,000 operations a year — take-offs and landings, which is more than Manchester/Boston. I think we provide a real vital service to make sure the airport is safe.”

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News

AP Video
SKorea Ferry Toll Hits 156, Search Gets Tougher Video Shows Possible Syrian Gas Attack Cubs Superfans Celebrate Wrigley's 100th Raw: Cattle Truck Overturns in Texas Admirers Flock to Dole During Kansas Homecoming Raw: Erupting Volcanoes in Guatemala and Peru Alibaba IPO Could Be Largest Ever for Tech Firm FBI Joining Probe of Suburban NY 'Swatting' Call U.S. Paratroopers in Poland, Amid Ukraine Crisis US Reviews Clemency for Certain Inmates Raw: Violence Erupts in Rio Near Olympic Venue Raw: Deadly Bombing in Egypt Raw: What's Inside a Commercial Jet Wheel Well Raw: Obama Arrives in Japan for State Visit Raw: Anti-Obama Activists Fight Manila Police Motels Near Disney Fighting Homeless Problem Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye' S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers
Photos of the Week