FAA to announce list of airports that will lose towers

Updated:

ORLANDO, Fla. —

The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to announce its final list of airports that will lose their traffic control towers Friday.

Several central Florida towers are on the chopping block, including the ones at Kissimmee Gateway Airport and Orlando Executive Airport.

The FAA was supposed to release the list earlier this week, but delayed it due to a large amount of appeals.

U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson made his voice heard last week about the possibility of Kissimmee's Gateway Airport losing its controllers.

"Why is it that the richest most powerful country in the entire world would be cutting its air traffic control budget by nine percent?" Grayson asked.

Grayson said he knows the city can't foot the half-million-dollar bill to staff the tower, but doesn't think the option to shut it down should even be on the table.

"I don't think air traffic should be facing any cuts, sequester or otherwise, and I hope we don't have to see a tragedy to alert us to that fact," he said.

Orlando Executive Airport handles more than 100,000 flight operations each year and could also lose the people trained to keep them organized.

Some pilots WFTV spoke with say certain airports can function effectively without people manning the towers.

But Kissimmee's airport director, Terry Lloyd, also compares that to a busy intersection without traffic lights keeping drivers from crashing.

"Closing down control towers in a metropolitan area will increase the risk for accidents," said Lloyd.

Grayson was one of the people to appeal.

In his letter to the FAA, he said Kissimmee Gateway Airport is of national interest because of the support it gives to Orlando International Airport, which is one of the country's busiest airports.