MARYLAND

Frederick Municipal Airport fights to keep tower open

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There's new hope that a local airport can survive the showdown over sequestration. Officials at Frederick Municipal Airport are making their case to keep their air traffic control tower open.

The FAA slated the newly opened tower as one of the more than 100 to close amidst budget cuts.

Jonathan Smith regularly flies in and out of the Frederic Municipal Airport from South Carolina.

"With all the students and other traffic, it gets a little crazy approaching and taking off so the tower helps a lot," Smith said.

But the new control tower may not be operational much longer because of federal budget cuts. It opened just 10 months ago, but it is slated to close in a few weeks.

There is no local funding available to keep the $5 million tower open, so General Manager Kevin Daugherty is lobbying to the state's congressional leaders and appealing to the federal government for help.

"The future of our airport is the tower so this is really taking a step backwards for us," Daugherty said.

Local officials pushed for the tower in an effort to attract more corporate business, and it's working. Over the past year, the airport has attracted more than $110 million coming in and out of Frederick. Pilots say closing the tower would be a threat to safety.

"The safety issue is the amount of traffic that comes in and out of here. It used to not be controlled," said Pilot Ken Robertson.

But not every pilot agrees.

If it's a congestion area, I am with you 100 percent," Pilot Pail Cebeci countered. "...but I don't see how this tower is necessary."

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