FAA closing down two Minn. airport towers

Bill Towle
Bill Towle, airport director for the St. Cloud Regional Airport, is shown in this photo taken May 1, 2012. Towle said he learned of the closure of the St. Cloud airport tower weeks ago and filed an appeal with the Federal Aviation Administration. He said the airport will stay open but pilots will have to be more vigilant.
MPR photo/Conrad Wilson

Two Minnesota airports will have to close their air traffic control towers, the Federal Aviation Administration announced Friday.

Budget cuts are forcing the FAA to close nearly 150 air traffic control towers operated by private contractors across the country. They include towers at the St. Cloud Regional Airport and the Anoka County-Blaine Airport.

St. Cloud airport director Bill Towle said he learned a few weeks ago that their tower might be closed and filed an appeal with the FAA.

"Unfortunately we were not able to convince the FAA to keep St Cloud's tower open. There were a handful of airports in this country that were able to convince them," Towle said. "We're going to lose five jobs. It's about a $3 million dollar asset that now will sit idle."

Towle said the airport will stay open but pilots will have to be more vigilant. He believes most pilots will continue using the St Cloud airport.

"That doesn't mean the airport closes. It just simply means it will no longer be a controlled airport," Towle said. "Pilots are going to have to ensure that they are really monitoring their radios; keeping a sharp eye out for other aircraft."

The FAA is also closing eight airport control towers in Wisconsin.

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