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Tower to close at Smith Reynolds Airport

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Smith Reynolds Airport officials received word Tuesday night the airport’s Federal Aviation Administration Contract Tower will close.

Spencer Dickerson of the American Association of Airport Executives confirmed on Tuesday the tower will cease operations on April 7.

Mark Davidson, director of Smith Reynolds, told the paper, “I am disappointed. I understand we need to rein in federal spending, but I think the cuts could have been made elsewhere with the FAA’s massive budget.”

The FAA. says it has nearly 200 airport towers that would have to close to help make-up it’s $600 million cuts.

Earlier Tuesdsay, Mark Davidson, Smith Reynolds Airport Director, said while closing the tower wouldn’t close the airport, what it does is remove a level of safety from an already busy airport.

“It’s a little unique here with the kind of aircraft we have from 737, 757 mixed in with flight school students flying single engine 172’s. Smith Reynolds needs those eyes, to look over the 43,000 operations we have a year. It’s an enhanced safety measure I think needs to be in place,” says Davidson.

The FAA tower at Smith Reynolds is run by a contractor and managed by a private company that uses F.A.A. funding.

Gayle Anderson with the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce says losing the tower and the safety it insures, would impact the airport’s ability to attract and maintain new corporate business.

“I think it’s important from a corporate perspective, because corporations are very safety conscious and you just feel better when you know there is a manned tower there. A lot of corporate pilots are more comfortable landing in those situations,” says Anderson.