Provo Airport Gets Air Traffic Controllers

Provo Airport Gets Air Traffic Controllers

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PROVO, Utah (AP) -- Pilots using the Provo Municipal Airport will now be getting instructions instead of mere advisements from the controllers in the newly staffed air traffic control tower.

Following three weeks of training, the tower crews were to officially take over control on Tuesday.

Airport manager Steve Gleason said the head controller had decided his team had sufficient training.

"They've been here for a while doing the training and doing advisories," Gleason said. "It's their call as far as when they've got a handle on the equipment and are comfortable with the airspace."

The controllers are employees of Serco, a British company the FAA hires to staff control towers at non-major U.S. airports.

Gleason said moving from a non-controlled airspace to a controlled one typically sparks resistance from pilots, but local pilots, for the most part, have embraced the change.

Matt Beckstrand, 27, a student and instructor in Utah Valley State College's aviation science program, said the controllers have brought greater order to Provo's skies.

"You have helicopter and airplane pilots trying to occupy the same airspace, and transient pilots who don't have a clue what the norms are," he said. "It's more safe now because someone is in control."

Beckstrand said the controlled space also provides a better training ground for students at the school.

Joe Brown, a flight instructor for UVSC, said he's heard a few murmurings in the aviation community about the change but generally it has been welcomed.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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