The FAA tower at Gabreski Airport could shut down if federal cuts are allowed to go into effect on March 1, according to statement issued by U.S. Tim Bishop's office late Friday afternoon.
According to the congressman, the cuts, known as "sequestrian," would force the closure of the tower at the Westhampton airport, which is run by Suffolk County and is home to the 106th Rescue Wing.
Sequestrian would pull $600 million from the FAA's coffers and would not only effectively shut down Gabreski's tower, but also towers at 100 other airports across the county, Bishop said.
Under the cut, the 1,453-acre Gabreski airport, said Bishop, would convert to "non-tower" operations at all times, meaning that pilots would be solely responsible for the safe operation of aircraft.
Currently, the tower operates with air traffic control guiding pilots during daytime hours only.
"Gabreski airport is a vital resource both for general aviation and for the homeland security mission of the 106th Air Rescue Wing, and closing the tower could result in delays and potentially unsafe conditions in the air, especially during inclement weather and high aircraft volume," said Bishop, who is urging the House of Representatives to prevent the cuts from going into effect.
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In recent years, the 69-year-old airport has come under scrutiny with area residents complaining of airplane noise; however, Anthony Ceglio, the airport manager, has assured residents that wind is to blame and the airport now features a complaint section on its website.
In addition, the county has given more authority to the Gabreski Airport Conservation and Assessment Committee to address the noise and the possibility of additional aircraft flying in and out of the facility, as the airport will soon house a 433,000-square-foot economic hub that is under construction.
The airport has also seen a 35 percent drop in use over the past year, according to a report by Ceglio.
To find out what Anthony Ceglio had to say about the possible tower closure, click here.