FAA Tower Closing

NOTE: The FAA will begin a four-week phased closure of the 149 federal contract towers beginning on April 7.


FAA Safety Team | Safer Skies Through Education

Air Traffic Control Facility Closures
Notice Number: NOTC4665

On February 22, 2013, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Federal Aviation Administrator (FAA) Michael Huerta jointly announced the possible impacts of a budget sequestration on FAA operations. This announcement included notification of potential closure of over 100 air traffic control towers, with those impending closures beginning April 7, 2013. The FAA has subsequently released a list of 149 control towers that will be closed and the agency has made the decision to keep 24 federal contract towers open, read: Press Release – FAA Makes Tower Closing Decision.

As the probability of these tower closures and reduced operating hours nears, it is important to increase our awareness of proper operating practices and procedures at airports without an operating control tower. Although we often hear these airports called “uncontrolled”, you can help ensure continued safe and controlled operations through adherence to published practices and procedures. Of course, “non-towered airport” is the proper term to use for an airport without an operating control tower.

There are many resources that provide advisory information for operations at airports without an operating control tower. These include the FAA Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM), Advisory Circular (AC) 90-66A , CFR 91.113 (Basic Right of Way Rules), CFR 91.126 and CFR 91.127 (Traffic Flow Rules at Non-Towered Airports).

Please also note that some aeronautical experience for pilot certification requires takeoffs and landings at a towered airport. This may increase activity at the remaining towered airports, and will necessitate diligent planning on the part of training providers, instructors and students.

So, what can I do?

Always check NOTAMs prior to flight.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. Remember, communication includes listening, not just transmitting.
Stay alert and continually scan for traffic. This may include turbojet, turboprop or helicopter operators that are not accustom to “standard traffic patterns” at your airport.
Be aware that you may now be sharing the traffic pattern with non-radio equipped aircraft or ultralights.
Spend some time with your CFI improving your knowledge and skills.
Improve your knowledge by completing one or more of the many on-line courses available through the FAASafety.gov website.

URL for the links listed in the notice:
Press Release:


AC 90-66A:
CFR 91.113:

CFR 91.126:

CFR 91.127:


Remember, safety is every pilot’s responsibility. Have a safe and enjoyable flight!

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