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TxDOT approves funding for air traffic control

AUSTIN, April 5, 2013-- Recognizing the importance of air traffic safety at municipal airports, the Texas Transportation Commission yesterday approved funding to pay for the continued operations of air traffic control towers at 14 airports in Texas, including Tyler Pounds Regional Airport. Currently, 21 percent of aircraft take off and land at these towered airports in Texas. Cuts in federal funding for air traffic control services at 149 facilities nationwide are scheduled to begin in phases starting next week.

“Safety is our top priority and I am glad we’re able to keep these critical air traffic control services operating,” said Texas Transportation Commissioner Fred Underwood. “As a pilot, I know firsthand how critical these services are to the safety of air traffic.”

“I applaud the commission for taking this action as it was the right thing to do for Texas,” said TxDOT Executive Director Phil Wilson. “The commission’s action today will allow these communities to partner with TxDOT during this period of transition while longer-term solutions are being evaluated and considered.”

Air traffic control towers help guide more than 65,000 flights each month at Texas municipal airports. According to pilots, the towers provide a much-needed layer of safety. When air traffic control towers are not used, a “see and avoid” method is implemented in which pilots make their own decisions about landing and taking off. According to aviation experts, this “see and avoid” practice is less safe at municipal airports where larger aircraft mix with smaller aircraft and helicopters.

Yesterday’s decision by the Commission will provide approximately $2 million for the following 14 airports for 90 days:

New Braunfels (BAZ); Brownsville (BRO); Easterwood Field College Station (CLL); TSTC Waco (CNW); Lone Star Executive Houston (CXO); Georgetown Muni (GTU); San Marcos Muni (HYI); Dallas Executive (RBD); Sugarland Regional  (SGR); Stinson Muni San Antonio (SSF); Collin County Regional (TKI); Texarkana (TXK) ; and Victoria Regional (VCT).

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