From Illinois Public Radio - News Local/State -

Bloomington Airport Sues FAA Over Air Traffic Control Operation

The Central Illinois Regional Airport has filed suit against the federal government over defunding air traffic control operations in Bloomington.

Airport Director Carl Olson said at least six other airports impacted by the Federal Aviation Administration’s recent decision to close 149 airport towers across the country by May 5.

He said the government didn't follow its own rules before making changes, including an environmental review of the proposed changes.

“In this case, we’re talking about an opportunity where this action will result in changes or increases in aircraft noise over residential areas, increased fuel burn, higher admissions going into the environment, as well as changes in socioeconomic conditions,” Olson said.

Olsen said he want a federal judge to delay the cuts until the FAA completes mandatory reviews for all the towers slated for closure, including the one at the Decatur Airport.

Airport Authority Board members say the Bloomington facility has more passenger traffic than 175 airports whose towers are being left open combined. The Airport Authority Board has authorized staff at the Bloomington airport to negotiate with the air traffic control firm to continue services.

Olson said the estimated revenue required to keep the tower operating amounts to a 15-to-20 percent budget increase in the current fiscal year, which he says the airport can handle for now. The airport will also negotiate with the FAA to amend the goverment lease of the tower.