TXDOT Aviation to vote on funding airport control towers

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GRAYSON COUNTY, TEXAS -- The control tower at North Texas Regional Airport costs about $200,000 annually to maintain. NTRA had just applied for FAA control tower funding, when news broke that funding would be cut nationally.

"I kinda thought, well, you know, they'll work through it. So far, they haven't," Shahan said.

Grayson County commissioners currently fund the NTRA control tower, but Airport Director Mike Shahan hopes future funding could come from TXDOT Aviation.

The transportation agency votes Thursday on whether they'll help fund more than a dozen Texas control towers.

"It's a very important initiative and we want to do what we can to support their air traffic control safety operations," Mark Cross with TXDOT Aviation said.

Airports like NTRA aren't required to have control towers, but they are preferred for busier airports and by airport clients, like NTRA's U.S. Aviation Academy.

Since the flight school established itself at NTRA in 2012, the airport has nearly doubled its flights.

"If we stay on track with our operations right now, we will have about 100,000 operations by the end of 2013," Shahan said.

NTRA isn't affected by the FAA cuts as much as other North Texas airports that stand to lose their control tower funding, like Collin County Regional, Arlington Municipal and Dallas Executive.

Today, the U.S. Contract Tower Association even filed a lawsuit against the FAA, petitioning its decision.

While these other control towers struggle for survival, NTRA hopes they won't always have to rely on the county for funding.

"Commissioners Court made a commitment that it was a worthwhile thing to look into. They funded us for a year and I suspect we'll be funded next year," Shahan said.

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