Skip to main content
King County logo

News

Metropolitan King County
Council News


County Councilmembers Dunn, Patterson and Sheriff Urquhart urge support for federal funding of air traffic controllers at Renton Municipal Airport

Summary

Staff reduction could impact local economy and public safety

Story

Metropolitan King County Councilmembers Reagan Dunn and Julia Patterson, who both represent the city of Renton, were joined by King County Sheriff John Urquhart in a letter sent to Congress urging its members to support full funding for contract air traffic controllers, specifically at the Renton Municipal Airport.

“This airport is critically important to King County and the region,” said Dunn. “Congress must act and guarantee that the Renton Municipal Airport and others like it have the needed funding to operate fully and continue contributing to the local economy.”

”The control tower at the Renton Municipal Airport helps protects people and keep commerce moving every single day,” said Council Vice Chair Patterson. “Pilots, passengers, and people on the ground depend on guidance from the control tower to keep them safe. We cannot afford to close down this vital piece of public safety infrastructure.”

Federal budget reductions earlier this year threatened to limit and remove staff from control towers at many municipal airports, including Renton. Earlier this year, member of the Washington State Congressional delegation help secure temporary funding to ensure the Renton Municipal Airport stayed open through September 30. In the letter, the Councilmembers and Sheriff stress that the airport is a key asset to the local economy and the Boeing Company, and urged Congress to find the funds to support the controllers indefinitely.

At their Renton plant, Boeing is currently manufacturing 38 planes per month and is scaling up to produce 42 planes per month by 2014. The lack of a control tower could significantly impact Boeing’s production and delivery schedule for a product that is projected to generate $32 billion in revenue. Furthermore, delays and safety concerns that stem from closing control towers could detract from our regional efforts to secure the production of the next generation of the 777 in the Puget Sound area.

The King County Sheriff’s Office also conducts its Air Support Unit operations from the Renton Municipal Airport. These operations are vital for search and rescue operations, as well as support of patrol operations throughout the entire region. Any closure of the control tower would have safety implications for Sheriff deputies and pilots, impacting their ability to serve the region.

“The Sheriff’s Air Support Unit is critical to patrol operations as well as Search & Rescue throughout the Puget Sound area,” said Sheriff Urquhart. “An operable control tower is critical for the safety of our pilots.”


Thank you for your efforts to support funding for contract air traffic control towers earlier this year. Your leadership and advocacy helped ensure that the Renton Municipal Airport would have the necessary funds to keep open through September 30 its air traffic control tower, an essential component of both the airport and the Puget Sound region’s economy.

The Renton Municipal Airport control tower is important not just to the region’s economy but also to The Boeing Company. All 737 airplanes are manufactured within King County. It is critical that these planes are able to leave the manufacturing plant in a timely manner for flight testing. Currently, Boeing is manufacturing 38 planes per month and is scaling up to produce 42 planes per month by 2014. The lack of a control tower could significantly impact Boeing’s production and delivery schedule for a product that is projected to generate $32 billion in revenue. If the tower is closed, the impact could be devastating to our region as we compete to secure the production of the next generation of the 777 in the Puget Sound area.

Closing the control tower would also compromise safety for King County residents, pilots, and passengers. Located in one of the most complicated airspaces in the nation, the Renton Municipal Airport serves as a key piece of public safety infrastructure for the Puget Sound region. Pilots, passengers, and people on the ground depend on guidance from the control tower. The airport is home to over 100,000 operations each year, which help keep people safe and commerce moving.

Finally, the King County Sheriff’s Office conducts its Air Support Unit operations from the Renton Municipal Airport. These operations are vital for search and rescue operations, as well as support of patrol operations throughout the entire region. Any closure of the control tower would have safety implications for our deputies and pilots, and could impact their ability to serve the region.

September 30 will be upon us before we know it. We hope we can work with you to keep the control tower at Renton Municipal Airport open for fiscal year 2014, and are ready to help advocate in the future on this important issue.

Thank you again for your great support of our region.



Contact the Council
Main phone:
206-477-1000
TTY/TDD:
206-296-1024
Fax:
206-296-0198