Friday, March 22, 2013
The FAA announced Friday it will close 149 regional airport control towers starting April 7, including San Diego's Brown Field and Ramona Airport.
"We heard from communities across the country about the importance of their towers and these were very tough decisions,'' Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said.
FAA officials said the cuts are necessary to help meet $637 million in forced spending cuts.
San Diego County Supervisors last week went on record opposing the closure of the Ramona tower airport saying it's the only regional airport that could fully support Cal Fire's aircraft.
Leaving its tower unstaffed would be a disaster waiting to happen, Supervisor Dianne Jacob said.
"I am deeply troubled by the FAA's decision to close down the Ramona air traffic control tower. Clearly, this is a situation where the federal government can't get its budget act together and is failing to put public safety first,”she said in a statement today.
Cal Fire responds to 400 calls annually and are responsible for protecting more than 1.7 million acres, which includes some U.S. Forest Service land. During larger fires, up to 18 aircraft can operate out of the Ramona airport, coordinated by air traffic controllers, Jacob said.
The FAA said it was targeting towers at airports with less than 150,000 takeoffs and landings and less than 10,000 commercial flights a year.
City News Service contributed to the information in this report.