Dubuque Air Traffic Controllers Concerned About Pending Closure

by Katie Wiedemann, Reporter

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By Katie Wiedemann

DUBUQUE, Iowa - The automatic federal budget cuts impact is slowly starting to be felt, including at Iowa airports.

Inside the Air Traffic Control Tower at the Dubuque Regional Airport.

Dubuque Regional Airport Air Traffic Control Manager Greg Sapp said, "It's my job to separate airplanes. "

Sapp and his employees are talking with pilots. Helping them land in the right spot, and keeping planes out of each other's way.

"With controllers, pilots do not have to talk to anybody," said Sapp. "A guy can fly in here on the runway and never say a word. "

The Dubuque Airport is busy with University of Dubuque student pilots learning to fly. Each day there are more than 100 aviation students taking off and landing there.

University of Dubuque Aviation Department Director Steve Accinelli said, "You're looking at the runway. Your vision is getting more tunneled because you have to be able to estimate your depth and your alignment and your speed. "

The school depends on the air traffic controllers to help new pilots navigate the already busy landing process.

Accinelli said, "we are peeling away a level of safety. "

Sapp said, "It's going to be extremely difficult for people to both communicate with each other and to announce themselves. "

That's a risk Sapp believes the F.A.A shouldn't be willing to take.

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