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Forum staff reports, Published May 08 2013

ND delegation calls on FAA to keep midnight shift at Fargo air traffic control tower

FARGO – North Dakota’s congressional delegation is calling on the head of the Federal Aviation Administration to preserve 24-hour air traffic control status at Fargo’s Hector International Airport.

The Fargo tower was listed among those facing a possible reduction in hours of operation, according to a news release from Sens. John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp and Rep. Kevin Cramer.

In a letter sent Tuesday to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, the delegation calls for the continuation of the Fargo airport’s round-the-clock status for air traffic control (ATC).

The lawmakers told Huerta that legislation passed last week to avert air traffic controller furloughs across the country also gives the FAA the flexibility it needs to retain the midnight shift at the Fargo tower.

The letter noted that the Fargo airport is the only 24-hour ATC-serviced airport in North Dakota.

“Accordingly, this airport provides emergency relief for flight diversions, and the runway serves as a primary emergency divert field for any aircraft transiting over our state,” the letter stated.

“It is not uncommon to see flights divert to Fargo when Minneapolis or Winnipeg experiences severe weather.”

The delegation also noted that Sanford Health in Fargo operates two helicopters on a round-the-clock basis for air medical operations.

“The Fargo control tower being a 24/7 operation increases the level of safety for the operations conducted,” the letter stated, going on to say that reducing the tower’s overnight hours “would limit the airport’s ability to provide the necessary services to the surrounding communities.”