Federal Bill Reaches Golden Triangle Regional Airport
GTR REGIONAL AIRPORT, Miss. (WCBI) – Air travel can be like a highway; it’s just missing a few lines.
To regulate the travel of multiple aircraft, air traffic controllers are needed across the country, including here in Northeast Mississippi.
The Omnibus Spending Bill, which was passed this past Friday, pumped $165 million dollars into funding these towers, and for an airport like Golden Triangle Regional it couldn’t have come at a better time.
“It’s a major safety issue for us that this tower is fully funded,” said GTR Executive Director, Mike Hainsey.
Which has been a problem in the past for Golden Triangle Regional Airport, but the recent passing of the Omnibus Spending Bill has airport Hainsey counting his blessings.
“This is actually the first time we’ve had dedicated funding in the bill,” Hainsey continued.
In 2013, during the government sequester, the FAA almost closed over 100 of these air traffic control towers like the one at Golden Triangle, but the Columbus Air Force Base had something to say about that.
“Because of the impact that we have on the Columbus Air Force base training, the Air Force stepped forward and went all the way to Washington and said that they needed our tower to be open so they could accomplish their missions,” said Hainsey.
It’s no small number of missions, about 24,000 missions a year on average.
On top of that, the airport directs flights from Delta Airlines, private charters, and crop dusters.
GTR has 4 air traffic controllers, and their experience is needed in the tower.
“The training is very intense because it’s the ultimate in multi-tasking to be able to handle all of these different airplanes, talk on the radios, do weather observations, and everything else,” said Hainsey.
With the additional funding, the sky is the limit for flights at GTR.
“This means that the tower will stay open, that the safety of the operation of GTR will be improved, and that the Columbus Air Force Base will be able to do the mission,” said Hainsey.
Hainsey mentioned Columbus Air Force Base is closing one of their outer runways, meaning more traffic for GTR.
With the busy season for GTR approaching, thanks to the additional funding the tower is looking at hiring a fifth traffic controller.