Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Pilot communications system installed at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport (KLBE), Latrobe, Pennsylvania

Westmoreland County Airport Authority officials, relieved that the air traffic control tower at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport will remain open at least through September, are installing a system to improve communications safety even while the tower is in operation.

Authority Chairman Don Rossi said he is glad to have the additional GroundLink system in place but hopes the tower remains a main line of communication.

“It's a sad and a hard thing to talk about with no towers, but we're ahead of the ball,” he said.

The system, purchased from a Minneapolis-based company, allows pilots to communicate directly with airports in Johnstown and Cleveland from the aircraft. Previously, a pilot had to call the airports using a public telephone to receive permission and a time for takeoff, Rossi said.

“This gives the pilot a direct line to Johnstown and Cleveland, and he does it when he's ready,” he said.

The $10,000 system will be paid for with part of an equipment grant. The $8,950 unit cost $1,200 to install.

Until September, the new system will be used when the tower is closed overnight, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

In late March, federal funding cuts due to budget sequestration threatened to close the tower at the Unity airport, which was among 149 on the closure list at regional airports throughout the country.

On Friday, the federal Department of Transportation announced that all towers will remain open at least through Sept. 30, the end of the federal budget year.

“That's great news for everybody, especially us,” said Gabe Monzo, executive director of the authority. “We'll see what's going to happen in September.”

Source: http://triblive.com

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