Leesburg Executive Airport faces uncertain future after FAA decision

Leesburg Executive Airport
Marine One with U.S. President Barack Obama takes off with two decoy helicopters at Leesburg Executive Airport Feb. 7, 2013 in Leesburg, Virginia. Obama traveled to Virginia to attend the House Democratic Issues Conference. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Following a major decision on air traffic control by the Federal Aviation Administration, leaders in Leesburg, Virginia, are trying to figure out the future of the town’s airport.

Since 2015, the company that works with Leesburg Executive Airport, Saab, has been operating an experimental remote tower system for air traffic control.

A remote tower system uses radar and cameras that are located away from the airport to help air traffic controllers direct planes to land and take off. An RTS takes the place of towers built on airport grounds.

Recently, however, the FAA has called for stiffer requirements for air traffic control. After a series of decisions by Saab, the FAA announced it would end the RTS program on June 14.

Airport director Scott Coffman recently told the Leesburg town council that the FAA’s decision will have a devastating economic impact.

“We know corporate air traffic will choose other airports,” Coffman said. “They have a choice in the area, and we know they will go to airports that have a tower because they want that level of safety when they are flying their clients in and out.”

Leesburg Mayor Kelly Burk, said herself and others are looking for a new solution.

“We can’t go back to having pilots landing and taking off the airport without control tower assistance,” she said.

In a news statement, the airport said they are working with community leaders and other stakeholders to find an interim solution until a physical tower can be built on airport grounds.

Kyle Cooper

Weekend and fill-in anchor Kyle Cooper has been with WTOP since 1992. Over those 25 years, Kyle has worked as a street reporter, editor and anchor. Prior to WTOP, Kyle worked at several radio stations in Indiana and at the Indianapolis Star Newspaper.

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