By Ben Lane, TSB Staff
Today the FAA released the list of air traffic control towers that will have their funding cut off on April 7. Despite the efforts of Collin County Regional Airport’s Executive Director Ken Wiegand and his staff, McKinney’s Collin County Regional Airport (CCRA) is on that list.
There was a hope that the FAA would reconsider its initial decision to cut the funding for Collin County Regional’s contract tower program. Forty airports were spared from the initial proposed list but CCRA is one of the 149 airports that are still scheduled to have their contract tower funding eliminated.
But CCRA’s tower will not be closing, due to a decision by McKinney’s City Council on Tuesday, as previously reported by TownSquareBuzz.com. The city will be fitting the bill. Council voted to give City Manager Jason Gray the authority to continue to fund tower operations through Sept. 30, the end of the 2013 fiscal year.
Wiegand said that under the current plan, the city manager is authorized to engage in an emergency services contract with Robinson Aviation, the company that is currently operating the air traffic control operations at CCRA.
“We’re going to keep it all the same with no cuts at all,” CCRA Executive Director Ken Wiegand told TSB on Friday. “Next we’ll look at the most cost-effective way to continue air traffic control services after September 30.”
Wiegand praised the council for its foresight in voting to continue the funding of the contract tower program at CCRA. “They are concerned about the safety of all the people flying in out of this airport and they’re taking responsibility to maintain safety,” Wiegand said.
If the council had not voted to fund the tower from city funds, the airport would not close but pilots would then be required to communicate with each other to determine takeoff and landing procedures at CCRA.
Instead of that, it appears that it will be business as usual at CCRA from April 7 and beyond. There will be just one small change according to Wiegand, “Now the checks will read City of McKinney instead of FAA.”