Update: FAA Closes Boca Raton, North Perry Control Towers, Spares Opa-locka

Mar 22, 2013

Air traffic controller Ron Wooldridge guides in flights at Boca Raton Airport. Boca is one of two small South Florida airports losing their control towers to sequestration cuts.
Credit Christine DiMattei

North Perry and Boca Raton airports are among 149 small facilities nationwide where federal budget cuts have forced closures of air traffic control towers.

The Federal Aviation Administration announced the decision today, nearly a month after it released a preliminary list of towers that could be affected.  

The tower at Miami-Dade's Opa-locka Airport had originally been considered for closure, but it's now on the list of only 24 towers nationwide that will be kept operational.

All of the affected airports will remain open.  But with no ground controllers, pilots will be left to coordinate takeoffs and landings among themselves over a shared radio frequency.

When North Perry, Boca Raton and Opa-locka airports found they were on the original list, all three appealed to the FAA with concerns over safety issues and regional economic impact, should the control towers shut down.

Under the sequestration budget cuts enacted this month, the FAA was forced to slash nearly $600 million from its $48 billion budget this fiscal year.  In early March, the FAA compiled a list of nearly 200 towers facing closure and said it would consider keeping any of them open if it was "in the national interest" to do so.

The FAA says it will begin a four-week phased closure of the 149 federal contract control towers beginning on April 7.