By Steve Burns
Should the massive U.S. sequester budget cuts become reality, Briscoe Field in Gwinnett County could be affected.
The control tower at the county-owned Lawrenceville facility is among more than 100 federal air traffic control operations that could be affected by the looming cuts, according to a Gwinnett spokesperson.
The control tower at Briscoe Field is operated by the Federal Aviation Administration. FAA Director Ray LaHood informed Gwinnett Authorities on Friday that the tower could be closed, county spokesperson Joe Sorenson said Monday.
However, Briscoe Field would remain open and operating even if the tower were closed, Sorenson said. And revenue derived from the airport likely would remain unchanged.
Sorenson said that the county derives most of its airport revenue from leases, and that Briscoe Field is largely a break-even operation.
He also noted that most small airports like Briscoe do not have control towers. The towers make for safer operations, such as when pilots are crossing runways.
At Briscoe, the tower is closed from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. daily under normal operations, although some commercial charter jets land at that time.
The potential shutdown of Briscoe’s control tower could send some pilots to nearby airports, such as DeKalb Peachtree Airport in Atlanta. Officials with that airport could not be reached for comment.