Westmoreland County Airport Authority confident air traffic tower will stay open
Officials at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport are awaiting budget decisions by the federal government but expect the air traffic control tower to remain open.
As the fiscal budget year ends on Sept. 30, operations at the Unity airport through the Westmoreland County Airport Authority should not change, Chairman Don Rossi said.
“The tower will still operate; it's just a matter of who's going to pay to operate it,” he said, adding that the authority could pursue other public or private funding sources. “We'll have to pool the resources that we have and see what we're going to have to do.”
The tower, operated by Midwest Control Service Inc. of Overland, Kan., has five employees and operates from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
When the tower is closed, planes land aided by a communications system installed in May to directly connect pilots to airports in Johnstown and Cleveland.
The system could be used if the tower closes permanently, Rossi said, noting that in larger airports, the tower helps control transitioning planes on the ground.
“A tower is only good for two minutes of flight: one minute landing and one minute taking off. Then you're in the air,” he said.
In March, the Federal Aviation Administration announced the need to cut $637 million under budget sequestration and considered closing the tower, among 189 nationwide at airports with fewer than 150,000 flights, by the end of September.
Arnold Palmer Regional tallied about 30,000 aircraft operations in the past fiscal year. Spirit Airlines' addition of flights to Dallas-Fort Worth in June could boost those numbers.
Originally, the tower was slated to close in April, then in May before the Sept. 30 date was set.
Rossi said he hopes officials will see the importance of the tower for air transportation to Southwestern Pennsylvania.
“I believe they're realizing they aren't going to risk the safety of the public,” he said.
The tower cost $46,100 to operate in 2012. Of that, $21,000 was paid by the federal government.
Executive director Gabe Monzo said he remains optimistic.
“We anticipate they're going to fund it,” he said.
At the authority board's monthly board meeting on Tuesday, officials reviewed three bids opened Sept. 5 for the addition of restrooms in the terminal building.
Arcon Contracting Inc. of West Mifflin was approved for the work as the apparent low bidder at $198,000.
Engineer Ed Masuti said although an option included the addition of seven executive parking spaces near the construction area, the cost was too high — about $20,000 — and he recommended adding only the restrooms, to be located near the ticket counter.
Masuti said the project could be completed by Christmas.
Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Honored Westmoreland youth counselor sought in theft of money from clients
- Daughter’s generosity lives on in Ruffsdale family
- Kopas, citing poor state inspection, pushes to end deal for Westmoreland Manor operator
- Detaining juveniles charged as adults costs Westmoreland reimbursement money
- Derry Township man killed when ATV flips
- Greensburg YMCA pool upgrade in works
- Ligonier water shutoff delayed slightly
- Children honor late Ligonier Township officer at Westmoreland Fair
- Proposed trucking repair facility at air park gets Unity planners’ OK
- Record-holding female motorcyclist to speak at Lincoln Highway event
- Westmoreland County Animal Response Team seeks money for new space