Closing control tower compromises safety

info@islandpacket.comApril 9, 2013 

While we can all applaud when government sequestration does not affect us, there are times when we should rethink that policy, especially when it involves safety.

The powers-that-be have decided that keeping the Hilton Head Island Airport control tower open through the RBC Heritage golf tournament is prudent. After June 15, the tower is to close. Why is it not prudent to have a tower after that?

Speaking as a flight instructor at the airport for the past seven years and one who flies almost daily, I can vouch for the professional staff in our tower. They direct the ground movement of fuel trucks, fire personnel and maintenance and do a terrific job of filing our flight plans. More importantly, they give pilots aircraft positions that keep us safe. I cannot tell you the number of times they have saved my tail by giving me proximity warnings of other aircraft, all the while directing several aircraft into a smooth, safe flow of traffic.

In 2012, there were 29,355 arrivals and departures at Hilton Head airport. That works out to 80.42 commercial, jet and general aviation arrivals and departures daily. It would be great if that number were spaced out, but in reality the traffic density has at times meant four or five aircraft inbound to Hilton Head at the same time. Without a tower, safety will be compromised. A major accident at the airport without tower control could have a big impact on tourism on Hilton Head.

Bill Shank

Hilton Head Island

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