FAA To Close Billard Control Tower, Forbes To Stay Open

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TOEPKA, Kan. (WIBW) – The Federal Aviation Administration’s revised list of air traffic control towers slated for closure had bittersweet news for Topeka airport administrators.

The FAA changed its original position and will now continue to fund the control tower at Forbes Field, but the one at Billard Airport remains slated for closure.

For Metropolitan Topeka Airport Authority president Eric Johnson, the next step is to pinpoint exactly how much funding is needed to ensure that the Billard tower remains open.

The FAA will cut funding to four other towers across Kansas, including one at Manhattan Regional Airport.

Johnson says that having an operational tower makes it easier to protect pilots and passengers.

“Enhancing safety is what it's all about,” said Johnson.

Manhattan's airport director Peter VanKuren says that safety can still be ensured without a tower.

“The lack of air traffic control does not make for an unsafe airport,” said VanKuren. “We will continue to operate as normal and it will be a safe environment.”

At Forbes f|Field, business will continue as usual, since the FAA decided to reverse it's original decision to close the tower, and instead, will now continue to fund it.

Officials at the 190th Area Refueling Wing believe that the military presence at the site proved that keeping the tower open would be beneficial to the country.

“The military plays a big part in national interest so it probably had more to do with military flying in and out of Forbes,” said Capt. Joe Blubaugh, the executive officer.

The FAA will begin closing 149 towers across the country on April 7, 2013.