SARA working to get air traffic control

Published 2:07 am Friday, December 1, 2017

For the fourth time in the last 15 months, local pilots are needed to fly in and out of South Alabama Regional Airport as the airport undergoes another air traffic control exercise.

SARA Executive Director Jed Blackwell said the exercise will be Monday through Thursday of next week and will go from 8:30 a.m. until 10 p.m.

The airport has been working to get air traffic control back for sometime now.

Blackwell said there is interest in getting the T-1 tower back and possibly SARA constructing another tower down the line.

Blackwell said they wanted to focus on getting the tower back and staffed.

Star-News archives show that an unlucky lighting strike in 2011, paired with federal budget cuts, made the military decide to stop providing air traffic control services locally.

The air traffic control tower and ground-control approach radar, which was due to be upgraded in 2012, was hit by lightning in September 2011.

Last October, Blackwell requested an air traffic control assessment, and the airport had good numbers.

Backwell said then that they needed between 150-200 operations per day to meet the qualifications for a T-1 tower.