Local air traffic control facilities may close due to sequestration

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RENTON, Wash. —

Saturday marked the first day of the sequestration budget cuts for Washington state, which could mean the final days for air traffic controllers at some local airports.

The Federal Aviation Administration put out a list of airports where air traffic control facilities could be closed, and the list included a control tower at Renton Municipal Airport.

Due to the federal budget cuts, the Federal Aviation Administration may no longer be able to fund staffing for the control tower. 

KIRO 7 Eyewitness News reporter Essex Porter spoke with Baha Acuner, who has ran a flight school at the Renton airport for 10 years. 

“The Renton airport is a pretty busy airport depending on the season. We do have a lot of flight training going on in here,” said Acuner. 

Many students learn to fly small planes at the airport, but the airport is also shared by 737 jetliners produced at Renton’s Boeing plant. 

The air traffic controllers spend their time keeping the planes a safe distance away from each other. 

“We have the inexperienced pilots and the experienced pilots all flying in the same air space. And air traffic control is the one, the entity, that makes sure that we don’t run into each other, makes sure that we don’t interfere with each other’s flight paths,” Acuner said. 

In addition to Renton, the FAA released a list of possible control tower closures that includes Everett, Tacoma and Olympia.

But with so many planes using the Renton airport, a closure might hit that airport the hardest.

“Not having that in here might be a major negative impact on our safety and air traffic,” Acuner said.

Nothing has been said from the Federal Aviation Admiration about its operations at Sea-Tac Airport, but the tower at Boeing Field may close overnight.