Looming federal budget cut worries Smyrna airport

Looming federal budget cut worries Smyrna airport (Image 1)

If the automatic federal spending cuts go into effect March 1, three regional airports in the state that could see their air traffic control close come April 1 and many worry it could become a safety issue.

As the busiest general aviation airport in the state, 350 planes come and in and out each day at the Smyrna airport.

“[The cuts] would a negative impact for our business and our safety. And those are our primary concerns here at the airport,” Airport Director John Black said.

One of those concerns is that the Smyrna airport would become a non-towered airport, which means that instead of taking specific instructions from a controller, aircrafts would follow standard procedures.

Blake Switalksi, a pilot, has been flying there for 15 years. He, too, believes the changes could be dangerous.

“The concern is safety. There is a lot of traffic at this airport. You've got runways that intersect and without someone watching out for you, and not watching out for the other guy, there is a major hazard,” he told Nashville's News 2.

Director Black said that another concern is job loss.

The Smyrna airport currently employees six air traffic controllers.

“We have six controllers and we don't want to see anything happen to that. They do an outstanding job. And we have one of the best air traffic systems in the world,” he said.

Black added that they also do medical evacuation operations, military operations and have flight schools.

All of those people would be affected by the cutback.

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