Renton threatens lawsuit over closure of airport tower

RENTON, Wash -- The City of Renton is preparing to take legal action against the federal government over the planned closure of the air traffic control tower at Renton Municipal Airport.

On a busy day, more than 80 planes land and take off from the Renton airport every hour.

"It does get very busy here in Renton," said flight instructor Scoot Kanlyn. "So personally, I feel it's an airport utilizes control tower services."

But because of federal budget cuts, the FAA plans to shut down the airport's air traffic control tower on April 21. If the feds doesn't reverse their decision soon, Renton says they'll file a law suit to try and stop the tower from closing.

"It's always a concern for the safety of the public whenever you got aircraft," said Zanetta Fontes, Assistant city attorney for Renton.

Scott Kanlyn, a senior flight instructor at Rainier Flight service, says with the airport's seaplane base, heavy helicopter traffic and Boeing testing 737's here, he agrees with the city's legal strategy.

"I think this tower is on the list of what I feel is essential, especially with Boeing because when they do a test flight, they close the runway," he said.

If the tower does close the airport would remain open. But pilots would have to maintain visual contact with planes landing and taking off.

"We have the only place in the world were 737 are manufactured," Fontes said. "So with these large jets taking off, they use air space shared with Sea-Tac and Boeing Field."