Sequester could shut down air traffic control towers at smaller airports across the country

Boca Raton, Stuart and Ft. Pierce airports on list

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- In just a few days, billions of dollars are set to be automatically cut from the federal budget if Congress fails to act.

The sequester, as it is known, would set in motion a chain reaction that will be felt across the country, especially when it comes to air travel.

Longer lines and delays are expected at major airports, but smaller facilities could feel it the worse.
The Federal Aviation Administration released a list on Friday detailing 200 smaller airports that could see control towers closed.

Among the facilities, the Boca Raton Airport could be one of the places that loses air traffic controllers.

"They set it up like a chess board. You know who's coming and going. Who's in order, who's first the leave, first to land," said Bradley Coulson, a helicopter pilot who operates out of the Boca Raton Airport.

The change is due to $600 million in automatic spending cuts to the FAA.   

"And we're talking about places like Boca Raton, Florida," said Ray LaHood, the U.S. Transportation Secretary.

LaHood said of the 200 small airports listed, they will pick 100 that will lose towers.

"Without the tower, you're going to have to either have the proper equipment to detect that or look out for it yourself visually," said Coulson.

Coulson said if the Boca Raton Airport is one of the places to lose its tower, he said safety could be an issue.

It is a problem that is now in the hands of Congress.

"These airports and all the tower operations, it's vital to any airport. So they just need to get off their rear-ends and make it happen," said Coulson.

Airports in Stuart and Fort Pierce are also at risk of losing air traffic control towers.

The FAA estimates the impacts of the cuts would not be felt until April 1st.

Congress has until March 1st before the cuts become a reality.

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