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Federal Cuts Could Affect Safety At Three Local Airports
The clock is ticking tonight on federal budget cuts that some say would put your safety at risk.
The Federal Aviation Administration is considering eliminating air traffic controllers at 189 airports across the country, including several here in Central Texas, because of sequestration.
There an average of 225 arrivals and departures each day from the Georgetown Municipal Airport.
All of the planes are guided in an out with the help of air traffic controllers.
The FAA pays for air traffic controllers in Georgetown and other nearby airports including San Marcos and New Braunfels.
We talked to a local flight instructor who says safety is a major concern, especially because of the nearby homes.
"It does worry me some because of the type of aircraft that we have coming through here, we have everything from life support air craft to business jets," said local flight instructor Wayne Janousek.
Planes at the Georgetown Airport come in at all different altitudes and speeds. Airport General Manager Sarah Hinton says being able to sequence the aircraft "will become more difficult when there is not a tower, so the safety issue is quiet important."
It could also mean more air traffic for Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. That’s because some insurance policies require planes to land in a towered airport, which means they won’t be able to use the Georgetown Municipal Airport or any other airport without a tower.
"If that happens then those aircraft will be forced to land at Bergstrom and that will certainly increase their operation," says Hinton.
Wednesday night, Hinton will file an exemption with the FAA in hopes of being excluded from the budget cuts. She will have to prove that the elimination of the tower will have a national impact.
The list of airports being affected will be finalized on March 18 and airports will be notified on March 20.
It costs $35,000 a month to pay for six air traffic controllers at the Georgetown Municipal Airport.
By Lydia Pantazes