The Chippewa Valley Regional Airport is among eight in Wisconsin that could lose its air traffic control towers if the so-called sequestration in Washington takes effect.

But even if the Federal Aviation Administration follows through on its threat to close more than 100 towers at smaller airports across the nation, it wouldn’t affect the 75 flights that take off or land most days in Chippewa County.

Airport Manager Charity Speich said airline service would not be disrupted in the event of a control tower closure. Instead, operations would revert to the situation that existed prior to the tower opening in November 2006.

In that case, it would become what’s known in the industry as an “uncontrolled airport,” where planes would be guided by air traffic controllers in Minneapolis until they were close, at which point pilots would communicate directly with one another.

“What I don’t understand is the control tower program has been held up as one of the most efficient and cost-effective programs of the FAA. So I can’t say I see the logic of such a decision,” Speich said.

The FAA announced Friday that in the event Congress does not head off sequestration cuts by this Friday’s deadline, the agency is prepared to furlough all of its nearly 47,000 employees one day per pay period, eliminate overnight shifts at more than 60 air traffic control towers, and close more than 100 towers at smaller airports.

Those 100 would be chosen from a list of around twice that many across the U.S. The other seven in Wisconsin include La Crosse, Mosinee, Kenosha, Janesville, Oshkosh and Waukesha, and Timmerman Field in Milwaukee.

The criteria for making the FAA’s possible tower closure list was airports with fewer than 150,000 flight operations or 10,000 commercial operations annually. Speich said only one Wisconsin airport exceeds those numbers — Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport. A handful of other airports in the state don’t meet those requirements, but still didn’t wind up on the FAA’s list of airports eligible for the cuts.

Closing the Chippewa Valley airport’s traffic control tower would affect the jobs of five air traffic controllers. None currently work overnight; their hours of operation are 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. The tower is operated by Midwest Air Traffic Control under a contract with the FAA.

The Chippewa Valley Regional Airport has undergone several changes over the past few years, including two phases of airline terminal improvements. In March 2010 it also switched its daily jet service to United Express, which flies to Chicago’s O'Hare Airport. Prior to that, daily jet service was to the Twin Cities.

It is served by four commercial flights daily and last year saw a total of 26,708 takeoffs and landings.

Of the state’s 12 controlled airports, Chippewa Valley Regional Airport ranked 10th, with La Crosse and Central Wisconsin Airport in Mosinee both having fewer take offs and landings, according to FAA data.

(14) comments

bluehillsmike

Fear mongering by the guy who thought up the sequester, Oblama. This is not going to happen--guaranteed.

Thundercloud

With two flights per day, this is going to be tough.

c'mon man

Sure keep trying to scare folks. They are making money out of this airport so if this isn't important then sure why not close it............... Quit spending money you don't have.. I can't just go out and keep writing checks what would happen if I did this...............Hmmmm arrested I'm sure....

Thundercloud

The tower was a huge boondoggle when it was put up and so is that airport. Remember when they spent $250,000 to put up the door canopy? The airport director says, don't worry, its federal dollars.

Heavyweight275

And you voted for it.

ThisGuyIsGood

Maybe we could get the big guy at the airline counter to shower more than once a month? I say shut down the tower. I have been in and out of that airport hundreds of times in the last 20 years and I think we survived before the tower just fine. All the tower has is a guy with binoculars and a radio, I could do that from my rooftop. Maybe Chairity could justify her $80,000 salary by filling in at the tower while thay are gone, rumor has it she does very little around there.

ChippewaFallsWisconsin

Really, you call this an adult like post? You make fun of a guy that may or may not smell bad? You say rumors claim Charity doesn't do much? Why don't you name those people you supposedly hear the rumors from? Have you seen the changes since she started? You say you have been there hundreds of times, but you din't notice the changes she has done? Take it from me, if you want just a bit of respect and people to respect you, don't act like a elementary school child with childlike comments. Use some discretion.

ThisGuyIsGood

I had to re-read my post several times but I did not find where I stated that I was going for an "adult like" post. Please point that out for me. I am not writing an article for this paper, rather I am commenting on the public section of this forum so I do not have the burden of backing up my statements with names or actual facts. I made one reference to a rumor, the rest are facts and opinions based on my own observations. I have to go now, it's recess time!

ThisGuyIsGood

Perhaps we could try to get a few more flights to actually justify a tower. I see these Sun Country charters pop up once in a while, why not get more of those to somewhere other than nowhere Nevada? Come on Charity, do your job and get more flights to better destinations!

bluehillsmike

Please post my previous comment. It has been a couple of hours. Again, I'll eat my hat if the Airport shuts down over the sequester. The Sequester slows the rate of increase; no one is cut one dime from their current funding 'baseline'. The Administration does not want low information voters to know that. Maybe Lee Newspapers and the AP don't want us to know either.

reader

The federal government has to stop this talk about all the cus and what it is going to hurt. They need to cut the needles spending on frivolus research - not needed research, giving planes to other countries, quit giving money to other countries when we have needs here. Work together to come up with a plan that cuts needless spending.
Do any of you really know where the money is going Time for this paper to do some research and print some of the facts.

Story hill
Story hill

Who uses it anyway ?

Story hill
Story hill

Two flights a day? What are those for? Walker flying in to do a fake listening session?

Story hill
Story hill

Sounds like a boondoggle for the rich.

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