Ormond Beach lobbies to protect airport control tower - FOX 35 News Orlando

Ormond Beach lobbies to protect airport control tower

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By Tracy Jacim, Reporter

ORMOND BEACH, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -- Ormond Beach Municipal Airport sees more than 110,000 flights every year, which is why the city is lobbying hard to make sure its air traffic control tower doesn't fall prey to the budget sequester.

"It can be dangerous, because a lot of planes are flying into and out of Ormond Beach," says flight student Steven Ruttens.   "We've flown in a lot in uncontrolled airports, and sometimes it's really tricky. We can get in trouble.  Planes really close together."

Ruttens, like others we spoke to at the airport, rely heavily on air traffic controllers.  Without a tower, it's up to the pilot to visually plot his location and radio it in to what is called an uncontrolled airport.

"There are airports that operate like that everyday, and they're safe, but maybe they're not as busy as Ormond," said pilot instructor Chris Davies.

And he's right. Ormond is busy, as numerous flight schools operate here.  There's a helicopter school, an Federal Aviation Administration program with Embry-Riddle University, and the Civil Air Patrol conducts Department of Homeland Security exercises here.

Ormond Beach Mayor Ed Kelley says the loss of the tower could mean the loss of some of that business, not to mention the loss of other operations that handle repair, maintenance, and fuel services. 

When asked about issues of security and who would monitor planes entering the air space, Mayor Kelley said, "in a perfect world," that would be done by the towers at Daytona Beach, Jacksonville, Orlando, and Sanford. "Those towers are not on the FAA's sequester removal list," he said.

The City of Ormond Beach and other Central Florida cities have until March 13 to respond to the FAA and lobby to get their tower off that list.

Some of the other airports on the FAA's sequester budget list includes: Orlando Executive Airport, Kissimmee Gateway, New Smyrna Beach, Titusville, Leesburg, Ocala, and Lakeland.  Several smaller airports are on the list too.

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