Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Greenbrier Airport Authority joins Federal Aviation Administration suit

April 16, 2013  
By Tina Alvey, Register-Herald Reporter

MAXWELTON, WEST VIRGINIA — The Greenbrier County Airport Authority voted unanimously to join dozens of other airport-related agencies in a lawsuit challenging the Federal Aviation Administration’s decision to close 150 air-traffic control towers.

Several lawsuits are now pending against the FAA, and one of those challenges resulted in the agency’s postponement of the planned cascade of tower closings, according to Greenbrier Valley Airport manager Jerry O’Sullivan. As it now stands, all of the towers on the FAA’s closure list will be shuttered on the same day — June 15. Prior to the suit-prompted change, Greenbrier Valley’s tower was slated to close May 5.

O’Sullivan recommended the Airport Authority join one of the suits, estimating the cost of partnering with other agencies to try to keep the towers open at $2,000.

“I think we should belly up and do it,” O’Sullivan told the Authority members gathered for their regular quarterly meeting Monday evening.  Authority member Betty Crookshanks agreed with O’Sullivan’s assessment, saying, “It would show there are people concerned about (the planned tower closures).”   In addition to researching the litigation question, the airport manager told the Authority that he has secured bids from contractors interested in taking on the tower’s operation, if the scheduled federal shut-down occurs.

O’Sullivan solicited bids based on the original closing target of May 5, with the contract to run through the end of September. The federal fiscal year begins Oct. 1, and speculation has held that the FAA may be able to find the funds in the new fiscal year to resume supporting at least some of the towers now scheduled for closure.

Midwest ATC, the company that currently holds the federal contract to staff and operate Greenbrier Valley’s tower, bid slightly more than $150,000 for the five months called for in the bid advertisement.

Two other companies — both of which are newcomers to tower operation in this region, according to O’Sullivan — submitted significantly lower bids. Defense Contract Services’ bid was around $93,000 for the five-month term, and Dynamic Science bid $15,000 per month.

O’Sullivan said, as the deadline approaches, he plans to re-bid the contract to get the most accurate estimate of what the cost will be to keep the tower open.  He is also monitoring the situation in Congress, where an Oklahoma senator is receiving bipartisan support for a measure that would remove the towers from consideration for budget sequester cuts.

Read more here:   http://www.register-herald.com

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