Re March 28 article, “NMB control tower prepares for closure”
Mr. Glenn Ray suggests closing the control tower at Grand Strand is like “a four-way stop sign on the road where drivers try to figure out who’s going next.”
This sounds like another sequester scare tactic, and, like the others, has no foundation in fact.
There are approximately 20,000 airports in the United States operating without staffed control towers, compared to about 500 with control towers. The major commercial airlines as well as regional carriers serve many of the uncontrolled airports.
There are procedures for flying into and out of airports without staffed control towers. Pilots announce their intentions and positions on a known, common frequency. There are standard traffic patterns which are published for almost all airports.
With respect to Grand Strand Airport, there is what is known as an instrument approach (Instrument Landing System) on the southwest runway, Runway 23, for purposes of approach and landing in conditions of poor visibility. The FAA maintains regional air traffic control centers, as well as approach and departure control facilities. These facilities maintain aircraft separation and issue clearances. In the case of Grand Strand, an approach controller would clear inbound aircraft to the ILS, in bad weather and sometimes in good weather. Such facilities are available to track inbound and departing traffic even at uncontrolled airports.
I am not saying large density airports, such as Los Angeles International, Dallas-Fort Worth, Atlanta, Chicago and the other major airports in the country could, or should, operate without air traffic controllers. At the same time I think it is wrong to convey or project an unsafe condition that doesn’t exist, at the majority of uncontrolled airports.