San Fernando Valley Business Journal

Local Airport Towers to Remain Open

By Mark Madler Monday, May 13, 2013

Control towers at airports in Pacoima and Lancaster will remain open through the summer after emergency legislation passed by Congress restored some funds to the Department of Transportation.

The towers at Whiteman Airport in the east San Fernando Valley and General William J. Fox Airfield in Lancaster were among the 149 contract facilities across the nation scheduled to close in early June due to budget cuts required by sequestration.

The Transportation Department will transfer funding received through the Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013, signed into law May 1, to keep the towers open for the remainder of the 2013 fiscal year that ends on Sept. 30.

Whiteman and Fox Field are owned by Los Angeles County and operated by third-party management firms.

Richard Smith, chief of L.A. County’s Aviation Division, said the decision to keep the towers open for at least another four and a half months had much to do with behind the scenes lobbying by airport operators, the American Association of Airport Executives and the U.S. Contract Tower Association.

“It is a testament to the level of resolve that pilots and airport sponsors have when it comes to the importance these towers provide,” Smith said.

Whiteman serves propeller planes, helicopters and L.A. County Fire Department aircraft. Fox Field is the only general aviation airport in the Antelope Valley and is used by corporate planes and the U.S. Forest Service craft.

The Reducing Flight Delays Act was passed by Congress due to widespread public outcry after the reduction of controllers at major airports led to commercial flight delays.