DANBURY, Conn. — Danbury Airport's control tower will close April 7 as part of federal "sequestration" spending cuts, the Federal Aviation Administration announced Friday.
But pilots will still be able to fly in and out of the airport — they will just have to control landings and takeoffs among themselves, said Michael Safranek, Danbury's assistant airport administrator
"Picture a busy intersection in Danbury and remove the traffic lights and stop signs," Safranek said. "The intersection is still open, but now each car has to figure out who's going to go first."
Five other control towers in Connecticut will also close, including those at Sikorsky Memorial, Groton-New London, Hartford-Brainard, Tweed-New Haven and Waterbury-Oxford airports. The FAA had to cut $637 million from its budget.
“We heard from communities across the country about the importance of their towers and these were very tough decisions,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a press release. “Unfortunately we are faced with a series of difficult choices that we have to make to reach the required cuts under sequestration.”
More than 70,000 operations, or flights, come into Danbury every year, Safranek said. Now, 95 percent of those flights are coordinated by controllers.
Danbury's tower used contract air-traffic controllers, meaning they were certified but not employed by the Federal Aviation Administration. The tower cost about $536,000 a year to operate, Safranek said.
A similar tower with FAA-employed controllers costs about $2 million a year to operate, he said.
The cut in Danbury had been predicted earlier this month.