City to Fund Drake Field Air Traffic Control Tower

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Fayetteville Executive Airport, Drake Field air traffic control tower, almost a causality of the sequester.

“This tower would not be manned, they would lock the door, they would strip out all of the equipment and take it someplace else,” said Ray Boudreaux, Airport Director.

The city council decided Tuesday (April 2) to pay a quarter of a million dollars a year from reserve money to keep the tower up and running.

“The council is always very reluctant to take money out of reserve but we feel that this is a case where it`s worthwhile,” said Adella Gray, Fayetteville Alderman.

The city owns the airport and it`s a $12.6 million investment that the city feels has to be protected, according to Gray.

“We will lose that investment pretty much if the FAA pulls the air traffic control,” said Gray.

The council hoping this decision will buy them time for Congress to change course.

“We`re hoping that it will be resolved and we won`t have to take that money out of reserves, but at this point in time that`s the action we took last night to make it possible for a year,” said Gray.

“Congressman Womack told us himself Congress can fix this, that doesn’t mean that they can fix it but he’s our champion,” added Boudreaux.

Gray said losing the tower would compromise the safety of everyone who flies in and out of Drake Field.

Drake Field is used by corporate and private jets, student pilots and the University of Arkansas.

“The football team flies in and out of here on a 757 with 183 to 185 passengers. Those folks deserve the increased safety that the tower provides,” said Boudreaux.

“I feel quite sure the University would not choose to use us if we did not have air traffic control, it would be just way too risky,” added Gray.

The air traffic control tower will be manned from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., which is when most of their traffic through the airport occurs.