CHARLESTON, W.Va. — U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito says officials at the Federal Aviation Administration needed to learn the full story about Yeager Airport and she says she’s glad they did.
Capito got a behind-the-scenes look at Yeager Friday morning just days after the FAA decided to take the state’s busiest airport of a list of those being considered for a reduction of FAA tower services. The agency was considering shutting down air traffic controlling operations at Yeager from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
“Yeager fell on the list when they (FAA) started looking at it from the enplanements and number of passengers and everything else,” Capito said. “We are now off that list which is the good news.”
Capito said she first learned of the possibility of losing part of the services about six weeks ago. She said she made a call to the FAA.
“I think it was a matter that the FAA had complete information on Yeager. We do have flights at night. We do refueling at night. We have terrain issues that I think require, for a safety aspect, more coverage that it may look on paper,” Capito said.
Capito, who uses the airport often to fly to and from Washington, D.C., worked with fellow Senator Joe Manchin, airport officials, the Kanawha County Commission and the West Virginia Air National Guard to make its case to the FAA. Capito said the Air Guard’s role at Yeager is key.
“They are doing special ops training in southern West Virginia. They’re flying in and out of here in the middle of the night a lot of times because they are doing night vision training,,” Capito said. “It’s critical that we retain the coverage for the military training and commercial airliners as well.”
In the last 14 months more than 100 military units have stopped at the airport for fuel or training overnight. According to Yeager Airport Director Nick Keller, Yeager had 315 commercial, cargo and private flights arrive after 11 p.m. over the past two years totaling around 30,000 passengers.
Had the reduction gone through night flights would have been directed by air traffic controllers in Indianapolis.