Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine sent a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) expressing concern that the FAA is considering closing the Air Traffic Control Tower at Richmond International Airport between the hours of midnight and 5:00 a.m. In their letter, the Senators highlight the need for the Control Tower to continue to be operational on a 24/7 basis for airport safety.

“The FAA’s analysis should take into account the critical need for the Control Tower to be open at a busy commercial service airport like Richmond International Airport.  For example, airlines often have flights that are scheduled to arrive before midnight but are delayed and land later,” the Senators wrote.

“We urge the FAA to reconsider the proposed closure of the Control Tower between midnight and 5:00 a.m. We also request a briefing on this matter before any further action is taken,” concluded the Senators.

A copy of the Senators’ letter can be found here and below.

The Honorable Stephen M. Dickson

Administrator

Federal Aviation Administration

800 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20591

Dear Administrator Dickson: 

We are writing to express our concern that the FAA is considering closing the Air Traffic Control Tower at Richmond International Airport between the hours of midnight and 5:00 a.m.  With passenger airlines and cargo aircraft taking off and landing at the Richmond Airport and maintenance crews and other workers having to be on, or crossing over, the airfield during these hours, the need to ensure safety requires that the Control Tower continue to be operational on a 24/7 basis. 

On October 1, the FAA’s Safety Risk Management Panel hosted a virtual meeting with Richmond Airport officials and various stakeholders.  We understand that the FAA’s proposal has been met with strong opposition from the Richmond Airport, passenger airlines, cargo carriers, the fixed base operators, the air traffic controllers at the Airport, and other stakeholders.

The FAA’s analysis should take into account the critical need for the Control Tower to be open at a busy commercial service airport like Richmond International Airport.  For example, airlines often have flights that are scheduled to arrive before midnight but are delayed and land later.  The Richmond Airport is also an alternate site when airlines must divert flights from landing at other airports due to weather conditions.  The Control Tower also plays an important role in coordinating early morning flights.  Although the flights might take off after 5:00 a.m., coordination between the pilots and the Control Tower may begin before 5:00 a.m. and, consequently, the Control Tower needs to be available. 

We also urge the FAA to consider the Control Tower’s critical role in directing ground traffic at an airport such as the Richmond International Airport, where airfield maintenance and aircraft re-positioning often occur between midnight and 5:00 a.m. 

In summary, given the above concerns, we urge the FAA to reconsider the proposed closure of the Control Tower between midnight and 5:00 a.m.  We also request a briefing on this matter before any further action is taken.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

 

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