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"Fullerton airport faces losing controller funds"



Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Fullerton airport faces losing controller funds
City officials to vote on whether to send a letter asking that funding not
be threatened.
By EUGENE W. FIELDS
THE ORANGE COUNTY (CA) REGISTER


FULLERTON - A proposed cut in federal funding for contract air-traffic
controllers at non-commercial airports across the country would make the
airspace around Fullerton Municipal Airport dangerous, an airport spokesman
said Monday.
 
In Fullerton, removing the air-traffic controllers would save the federal
government $500,000.

Airport Manager Rod Propst said 300 private planes are based at the airport,
which annually has 65,000 operations (the combined number of take-offs and
landings).
 
Propst said the number of operations is relatively low, but the Fullerton
airport also coordinates air traffic for news helicopters tracking traffic
on the I-5, 91 and 57 freeways. Without funding, Propst said pilots would
have to fend for themselves.
 
"The primary responsibility of the air-traffic controller is to separate
aircraft in that airspace so that they don't occupy the same airspace at the
same time," said Propst, adding that the airport will stay open even without
an operating tower. "We wouldn't have that anymore in the busiest airspace
in the nation."
 
Additionally, the Fullerton Municipal Airport is a designated reliever
airport for John Wayne Airport, taking in smaller planes to ease air traffic
for the Santa Ana airport.
 
"By limiting the safety factor at Fullerton, some of the planes won't come
here because there won't be a tower," Propst said. "They will go to John
Wayne and clog the airspace and then that will overflow into LAX."
 
The airport has asked the City Council to draft a letter of protest to both
U.S. senators and to Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez to ask for support. The
council is scheduled to vote on whether to send a letter at Tuesday's
council meeting.
 
"If this airport was in the middle of Montana, and the only reason you would
come here is to come here, you could say safety is not really a factor,"
Propst said. "If you take this tower away, the constituents that live around
the airport and in the area are much less safe."
 
If the federal government eliminates funding, the city could choose to pay
to staff the tower.
 
Fullerton Municipal Airport
 
Hours: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
 
Planes based there: 300
 
Controllers: One, from 7 to 10 a.m.; two, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
 
Who are the controllers?: former military or retired FAA controllers

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