Columbus could be losing air traffic controllers - WRBL

Columbus could be losing air traffic controllers

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COLUMBUS, Ga. -

The Federal Aviation Administration has released the names of over 200 airports around the country that could be losing their air traffic controllers this year, and Columbus is on the list.

A lot of planes fly through the Columbus airport each day, some big and some small. Skyline Columbus is home to the city's flight school and owner Todd Shellnutt says with the loss of air traffic controllers, pilots will be left to fend for themselves. He say, "Airlines are jets, they're big jets. They move a lot quicker than our standard flight trainer, and so our students have to be more aware when they don't have big brother watching after them and telling them where these airplanes are."

He says now they will have to pay extra attention to obstacles, terrain and other planes. "A lot of the accidents you have when airplanes trade paint happen during these times when there's no big brother," he says.

Shellnutt adds that the vast majority of flights are private flights, and without air traffic controllers, safety concerns will grow significantly.

Passengers agree, saying they don't want to fly anywhere that isn't supervised.

Ryan Senegal says, "I'm very concerned. I would think twice about flying now if I knew the airport didn't have air traffic controllers."

Frequent flyer Molly Reid says, "If they are directing themselves, how are we ensured that the pilots or whoever have communication at all times?"

She adds that air traffic controllers shouldn't be victims of the economy. "I would hope there would be different ways we could find to save money instead of having all these people laid off and something like this that could interfere with travel."

American Airlines announced Tuesday that they are pulling out of the airport this spring. There are about eight commercial flights between American and Delta each day.

The airport cuts will start to happen over the next couple of months.

Jessi Mitchell

Jessi joined the WRBL news team in October 2012 after working as a freelance production assistant for MTV Networks in Los Angeles.
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