An FAA closures list on potential air traffic control towers was revealed as part of the organization's budget cuts that took effect March 1. That means there are about 238 small airports nationwide considered for closures due to low volume activity that have traffic control towers operated by contractors. This is one of the first of many budget cuts.
According to a March 8 report on Boomberg Businessweek News, Oregon has five airport towers on the list. They are Klamath Falls, North Bend, Pendleton, Salem and Troutdale. The airports would remain open, but pilots would be responsible for their own safety by communicating with each other instead of the tower.
The Salem Municipal Airport plans to ask members of the Congressional delegation to urge the FFA to cut back air traffic control operations instead of cutting them altogether.
"Though we can operate without a tower, we think it's important to have one," said Salem City Manager Linda Norris.
As for the Portland-Troutdale Airport, it is located just 10 miles east of Portland International Airport. Their argument is that being so close in proximity to the 300 commercial flights per day in addition to Air National Guard jets flying nearby, maintaining a tower is vital.
Salem has 32,000 private and cargo flights a year and Klamath Falls has 37,000 takeoffs and landings a year. United Airlines has four flights a day there, but three of them take off or land when the tower is closed.
The FAA must cut $600 million due to automatic budget cuts. They will also be furloughing FAA employees in addition to other actions, the report said.