BETHALTO, Ill. (KMOX) – If the federal sequestration budget cuts go into effect as planned, the air traffic control tower at St. Louis Regional Airport in Bethalto will go dark, April 1, by order of the FAA.
Pilots would have to communicate amongst themselves with plane radios.
Five controllers will lose their jobs, but airport manager David Miller says operations will continue without them, “Does this automatically make this a hazardous operation? Not necessarily so. But, it’s a risk management issue. It does increase the risk.”
Miller says it could become like a street corner intersection losing its traffic lights and no police are there to direct traffic, “Eventually, under that scenario, auto accidents would increase. People would get bumped into. Bicycles would get run over.”
Miller says the airport handles about 70,000 flights per year— many of those are corporate and military, “I’ve already talked to our major tenants here and they say it’s no problem for them if the tower’s not there. Some officials at Scott Air Force Base say it won’t affect their wanting to come up here to do training.”
St. Louis Regional also hosts a big fireworks display prior to July 4th, and a September Fly-In Drive-In. Miller says those will not be affected by a tower shut-down.