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Gabreski Airport Manager: Air Traffic Tower Closure Creates Uncontrolled Airspace

Anthony Ciglia said at least 7 people will be without jobs.

Anthony Ceglio, Gabreski's airport manager, said there will be adverse affects if the Federal Government allows a serious of "sequestrian" cuts to go through and as a result, shut down Westhampton's Gabreski Airport's tower.

"The possible closure of the air traffic control tower at Gabreski Airport will have an impact on the way aircraft use the airport," said Ceglio, after Congressman Tim Bishop announced the possible closure of the tower on Friday.

Under the cut, which will also affect 100 other airport towers across the country, Ceglio said the Suffolk-County owned Gabreski airport would convert to "non-tower" operations at all times.

The 69-year-old airport, which handles 75,000 operations each year, consisting of corporate jets, private aircraft, can and will remain open, but the airspace within five miles, currently under the control of the tower, will be uncontrolled, explained Ceglio.

"Pilots will be responsible for safe separation between aircraft landing and taking off," he said.

That makes at least one resident nervous, who commented on Patch: "If this tower is closed the whole place should close. The homes in the area should not be in danger. Close the whole place down."

The airport has also come under scrutiny in the last year by residents who have complained of noise, but Ceglio, has assured residents that wind patterns are to blame and the airport features a complaint section on its website.

Operating without air traffic control, however, is not a new concept at Gabreski, said Ceglio, since the airport is currently uncontrolled during less busy night hours now.

Under the cut, however, the airport's seven full-time air traffic controllers stand to lose their jobs.

And Ceglio said an additional effect on the airport could be a decrease in the number of operations from all aircraft reducing revenue generated by that businesses that sell fuel, parking, and catering.

The closure, said Ceglio, could also pose a problem to the air national guard's operations — the 106th Rescue Wing of the Air National Guard is located at Gabreski and its flights account for 20 percent of all take offs and landings at Gabreski.

Ceglio said the 106th has yet to determine how exactly a closure would affect their operations and what it's plans will be.

Related Reading:

  • Gabreski Airport Tower Faces Closure

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Irwin February 26, 2013 at 03:17 PM
You gotta be kidding. Closing the tower? Where are our officials? Aren't they concerned about the potential accidents and deaths?
Frank Wheeler February 26, 2013 at 07:47 PM
69 years old? Someone's math is off by several years.
Robert Caccavalla February 27, 2013 at 01:36 PM
Officials you say... Well for one thing. There are so many of them. Cost more to keep and pay for them and their lavish retirement than it does to pay for the tower. I doubt you will see any of them get fer-lowed. As far as safety. It is the Pilot and Flight crews responsibility to maintain traffic separation. The key to separation and sequencing is to accurately communicate. your position and intention. There are airports with more traffic than Gabreski could dream of, and there is no tower. There may be a few less situations where one person in the pattern tries to turn early onto final approach ahead of a slower aircraft, or something cheap. But by and large they get by just fine. The Air Guard will provide for their operations at the least. They claim there are 75,000 transactions the tower handles? There are 365 days in a year. there are many days and months out here where NOTHING happens. I could die on the ramp in winter at that airport and they wont find me until late spring. Even in the warmer months the weather goes down and operations are limited. Also the tower closes at eleven and opens at seven. Deduct the days that the weather is down, The winter season that nothing happens, The time the tower is actually open for operation. 75,000? You do the math. I can take the tower or leave it. don't really care either way. But don't worry. Things will work out either way. However, They can't help but spend money. So Don't be surprised if it stays open. That's my Bet.
wildman March 06, 2013 at 08:37 PM
Gabreski should be closed. It does not manage its voluntary curfew at all, there are private jets landing after midnight. The light pollution is high. The military base is a very high expense. The airport grounds have tons of cleanup that need to happen. Let the land turn back into the pine barrons.

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