The sequestration cuts are already taking a toll on Florida’s aviation industry as two of South Florida’s smallest airports- North Perry in Broward and Opa-Locka in Miami-Dade will go “dark” in April. The FAA has slated for the closing of 189 federal air traffic control towers on April 1. According to Federal officials, this would leave “private pilots to navigate themselves to the runways without help from air-traffic controllers,” also saying that they don’t feel that “safety would be compromised.”
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The notion of pilots landing on their own without guidance from the ground could be equated to vehicle drivers pulling to a four-way intersection whose traffic signals have failed and trying to negotiate with other drivers whose turn is it to go through the intersection.
While the FAA says that other smaller airports like Fort Lauderdale’s Executive airport will pick up the slack, officials fail to point out that Opa Locka is also where the United States Coast Guard Miami Air Station is location. According to a air controller who wished to stay nameless, the tower closing at the Opa-Locka would directly affect the Coast Guard, as the airport uses that same government controllers to assist in take-offs and landings for the Coast Guard’s aviation wing in South Florida.
It also raises the risk of a mid-air collision if two pilots don’t communicate properly on an approach that’s currently monitored by professional air-traffic controllers.- Miami Herald
South Florida has had its fair share of mid-air collisions and aborted take-offs and landing due to the sizeable air traffic congestion in the highly populated region. The likelihood of such incidents is now elevated given the fact that the past air traffic near-miss incidents were still an ongoing concern prior to the closure of these facilities.