The Federal Aviation Administration announced April 5 it will delay the closure of the contract control tower at the Tacoma Narrows Airport in Gig Harbor until June 15.
The tower is one of 149 contract control towers slated to close this spring as the FAA implements $637 million in budget cuts under sequestration. All 149 towers, which are located around the country, will remain open until June 15.
“We appreciate the closure delay, as it will allow Pierce County to ensure our pilot community is informed about the closure and prepared for the transition,” said Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. “We will also explore options to operate the tower as a Non-Federal Control Tower on a part-time basis, such as on busy summer weekends. We plan to look into sponsorship opportunities that would allow us to create a public-private partnership to cover the costs.”
The FAA had planned to start a four-week phased closure of the towers on April 7. The Tacoma Narrows Airport tower was scheduled to close at 8 p.m. on April 7.
Tacoma Narrows Airport will remain open after the FAA contract tower closes. Instead of having tower controllers directing air traffic, pilots would use well-defined procedures applicable at all airports without an operating control tower. These standard procedures are already in use between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. at the Tacoma Narrows Airport, and 24 hours a day at Pierce County Airport-Thun Field, which is also operated by Pierce County and has never had a control tower.
Deb Wallace, Public Works and Utilities airport and ferry administrator
Anne Radford, Public Works and Utilities public information officer