Airport unsure of tower closure

WILLIAMSTOWN – An official with the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport discussed how the possible closure of the local air traffic control tower would affect the facility.

“I think there might be an impact if our tower is closed, but we will find out,” said manager Terry Moore.

Last month U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced 100 smaller air-traffic control towers would be closed from among a list of 200 such towers under consideration as part of the federal automatic spending cuts. The local tower is part of this list.

Tower operations allow pilots to know where other aircraft are in the air and on the ground and where it is safe to go. Losing that safety is the main concern.

During the regular meeting of the Wood County Airport Authority, member Wayne Dunn asked if the airport would lose commercial service if the tower operations close.

“I don’t see any problem with our commercial service, but things will change,” Moore said.

One of those changes may be the number of charter flights that use the airport.

Typically three or four larger planes land at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport a year as they are chartered by sports teams on their way to Athens to play Ohio University, Moore said.

“We might have trouble attracting charter flights if we lose the tower, but there are a number of things we can do to aid pilots from the ground without a tower,” he continued.

On Tuesday, a 737 used the aid of local tower employees doing touch-and-go landings at the airport from Andrews Air Force Base.

Moore said the airport uses the fact they have a tower to campaign to get military aircraft to do touch-and-goes at the facility.

“When planes do such procedures they typically fly around the area and land and take off six times,” he said.

Those flights will likely end if the tower operations close.

Moore said the tower’s employees are provided by the Federal Aviation Administration through a contract with a company in Missouri to provide qualified employees to the tower.

Moore added that he believes the list of towers for considered closing is not a list of possibilities, but definite.

“It seems to be a list of the towers to be closed,” he said. “Most of those 200 towers are contracted and the three contract companies have already been sent letters basically ending their contracts with the Federal Aviation Administration.”

It is not known when the FAA will announce the tower closures.