GREENVILLE - There is speculation the control tower at the Outagamie County Regional Airport is the next to close. Nothing has formally been announced.
FOX 11's Laura Smith learned Friday the control tower at the Greenville airport could be closed later this year as part of President Obama's budget proposal. It is expected to be released next week.
Midwest ATC Service runs the Outagamie County Regional Airport's air traffic control tower.
Company officials say teleconference calls with the feds suggest the tower could be closed.
"They have mentioned, the FAA on these telecons, that they will be looking into cutting the remainder contract towers in the 2014 budget, but nothing formal has been sent out or documented yet," said Jennifer York, air traffic control manager.
The tower is one of the remaining 102 FAA contracted towers still funded following the latest round of budget cuts.
"If the FAA doesn't fund the tower then it goes to the city, the county, the state and they have to find the money to keep the tower open," said York.
If the control tower would close, Airport Director Marty Lenss says the airport itself would remain open.
"We're not planning on closing, it's completely our intent to remain open, and we'll fight any federal action to close it with a lot of enthusiasm to keep it open," said Lenss.
Lenss says because the tower is not on a list at this time he fully expects the tower to remain open, but adds he's monitoring the situation closely.
"We'll know more potentially next week, but given the fact that the towers, 149 towers that were slated for closure this month of April, and then pushed back, I think the issue is very fluid," said Lenss.
The prospect of an airport of this size operating without a control tower concerns Patrick Heil. The owner of Platinum Flight Center says safety would be compromised.
"When we start mixing the amount of traffic with the diversity here you've got Gulfstream with very large corporate jets that are very fast versus the small airplanes at our flight school, it takes a third eye to be watching and doing that," said Heil.
Heil adds if the tower goes dark, that could also impact service. Regional carriers could leave or cut their number of flights.
"They're here for a reason because the tower is here that they can give safe service. If they can't provide safe service to their customers then the service would go away," said Heil.
The tower at Austin Straubel International Airport in Ashwaubenon would not be affected by any future cuts. It is not contracted with the federal government.
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