Nightly News   |  March 22, 2013

FAA to close 149 air traffic control towers

Those federal budget cuts called the “sequester" have claimed another victim-- air traffic control towers at small and medium-sized airports across the country. Some critics are concerned that it could affect safety. NBC's Pete Williams reports.

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>>> federal budget cuts have claimed another victim tonight with a high profile air traffic control towers at small and medium-sized airports across our country. pete williams has had a look at the list. he's with us tonight from our washington newsroom. pete, good evening.

>> reporter: brian, good evening. the f.a.a. says it has to do this to meet the goal of cutting more than $600 million out of the budget. starting in two weeks it's shutting down air traffic control towers in 38 states affecting operations at 139 small and medium-sized airports nationwide. it is not expected to have much impact on commercial airline schedules but it will affect operations at airports like frederick municipal in maryland. the towers will shut down b because the f.a.a. is laying off the contract controllers. another example in greenville, south carolina . these airport wills not shut down completely because most planes can land without controllers but it could put more demand on other f.a.a. facilities which will have their own problems coping with layoffs. the group that speaks for private plane own ohhers calls it extremely disappointing and says the same federal agency charged with ensuring safety is compromising it.

>> pete, thanks.