Monday, June 25, 2018
News Roundup

Was Hernando's control tower needed? Maybe not, but please don't shut it down

The numbers, to put it mildly, don't look good.

Check them out and you have to wonder how the Federal Aviation Administration decides which airports really need control towers.

You have to wonder whether there's a certain amount of fudging involved — and whether Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport was perfectly safe without a control tower.

Those were the claims of the tower naysayers, by the way. So if you wonder those things, you also have to wonder whether they were right all along.

Specifically, the airport counted about 42,000 "operations" between mid October, when the tower opened, and the end of August, nearly 11 months later. That's less than half the 90,000 predicted for the first year the tower would be up and running.

If you see that current tally and think it still seems like quite a few takeoffs and landings, well, you can't even assume that. Making radio contact with a fuel truck crossing a runway counts as an "operation," for example. A touch-and-go training exercise — when pilots descend just far enough to tap their airplanes' wheels on the tarmac — counts for two.

It can be pretty slow out at the airport. There's no doubt the critics are right about that.

But does this mean they're also right when they say the tower should never have been built and that the $500,000 the FAA spends per year to operate it is a sorry waste of federal money?

I'm not sure it necessarily does mean that.

For one thing, the FAA's criteria for approving towers and funding their operation is complicated and includes a lot of other factors besides volume of traffic.

And now that the tower is there, the traffic counts probably won't stay low for long.

Take the newly arrived Corporate Jet Solutions, a company that repairs planes — planes that arrive and depart and, in between, require test flights to see how the repairs are working. That will add up to quite a few new "operations."

The owners of the company are also due to open a flight school, which will bring quite a few more. Two other planned flight schools will bring still more operations.

At least one of the schools wouldn't be opening if the tower hadn't been built, which makes sense. If you want to teach pilots, you probably want to teach them how to deal with air traffic controllers.

Notice, then, that we're talking about more than just traffic. We're talking about students coming to Hernando to spend money. We're talking about new jobs.

Pure and simple — if the airport is ever to become a center for aviation business, it needs this tower.

So does that mean the critics are really wrong, that the events at the airport prove this tower was justified?

At the risk of sounding wishy-washy, I don't think it means that, either.

Remember, it's not good policy to build public facilities on the bet that they will be fully used in the future and that, in the meantime, they'll boost somebody's local economy. We shouldn't do it for roads; we shouldn't do it for towers.

But the tower is already an asset. And if the FAA shuts it down because of the budget mess in Washington or for any other reason, it would be a serious blow.

About that, I don't wonder at all.

Comments
Delta is banning pit bull service dogs, which might not be legal

Delta is banning pit bull service dogs, which might not be legal

Amid growing scrutiny of animals in airplane cabins, several airlines have unveiled tightened policies aimed at limiting the number of untrained pets or unusual species on flights. The changes, they have said, are driven by safety considerations and ...
Updated: 16 minutes ago
USF considering former Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long

USF considering former Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long

While Tom Jurich remains the preferred choice among several prominent USF boosters (and some coaches) for the Bulls' athletic director gig, our intel has revealed another former Power Five AD also is getting a serious look.Jeff Long, who spent nearly...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Driver who caused crash that damaged Hillsborough deputy’s patrol car was drunk, authorities say

Driver who caused crash that damaged Hillsborough deputy’s patrol car was drunk, authorities say

TAMPA — Panfilo Hernandez Saldana’s drive came to an abrupt end Friday night when he caused a crash that damaged a Hillsborough County sheriff’s vehicle, according to a Sheriff’s Office news release.Saldana, 30, rammed into the back of another car th...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Top 5 at noon: What’s taking FDLE so long in Jack Latvala investigation? court dismisses suit by Tampa man who claims William Shatner is his father; and more

Top 5 at noon: What’s taking FDLE so long in Jack Latvala investigation? court dismisses suit by Tampa man who claims William Shatner is his father; and more

Here are the latest headlines and updates on tampabay.com.IN JACK LATVALA INVESTIGATION, WHAT’S TAKING FDLE SO LONG?It has been nearly six months since the Florida Department of Law Enforcement launched an investigation of former Sen. Jack Latvala o...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Seffner man killed by lightning strike on Siesta Key

Seffner man killed by lightning strike on Siesta Key

A Seffner man was killed Sunday afternoon in a lightning strike on Siesta Key.According to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded after receiving a call around 2:15 p.m. of a person struck by lightning in the 6000 block of Midnight ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Watch: Gator that visited Brandon stores gets free ride in deputy’s patrol car

Watch: Gator that visited Brandon stores gets free ride in deputy’s patrol car

It’s not rare to see gators lurking around areas across Tampa Bay.What is rare, though, is seeing one slither out of a deputy’s cruiser.Hillsborough County sheriffs handled and removed an alligator that visited a CVS and Speedway at Lumsden Road in B...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Restaurant review: Viva Napoli lovingly recreates Italian cuisine’s greatest hits

Restaurant review: Viva Napoli lovingly recreates Italian cuisine’s greatest hits

TAMPAAccording to Nation’s Restaurant News, Italian continues to be the country’s most beloved ethnic cuisine. I’ve fallen out of love and then gotten moony-eyed again several times over the past decade or so. It’s a cuisine that is manhandled, jerry...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Ex-Bucs DE Keith McCants arrested, facing cocaine charge

Ex-Bucs DE Keith McCants arrested, facing cocaine charge

Former Alabama star and Bucs defensive end Keith McCants was arrested in St. Petersburg early Monday morning and is facing a felony charge of possession of crack cocaine, according to arrest records.McCants, 50, was arrested by the Pinellas County Sh...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Burgeoning trade war takes a toll from Tampa to Turkey

Burgeoning trade war takes a toll from Tampa to Turkey

Associated Press WASHINGTON — A Tampa boat builder absorbs $4 million in lost business and expects more pain. An Ohio pork producer is losing access to a vital export market and fears the damage will last years. A motorcycle shop near Cologne, German...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Harley-Davidson moving some production from U.S. because of EU tariffs

Harley-Davidson moving some production from U.S. because of EU tariffs

Harley-Davidson, the U.S. motorcycle manufacturer, said Monday that it was shifting some of the production of its bikes outside the United States to avoid European Union tariffs imposed as part of a widening trade dispute.The announcement, made in a ...
Updated: 2 hours ago