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NEWS Last modified on May 14, 2013

US gateway installs pilot-controlled runway lights

Bangor International Airport (BGR), in Maine, has installed pilot-controlled runway lights in anticipation of further operating restrictions by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The $20,000 system allows pilots of approaching aircraft to illuminate the runway lights if the tower is left unmanned, simply by switching on their cockpit microphone. 

“It won’t be known until June whether the FAA’s budget cuts will lead to the closure of towers altogether, or to reduced operating hours,” says BGR airport director Tony Caruso. 

“As America’s gateway airport for Europe on the Great Circle route, with 24/7 customs and border protection, to say nothing of our role as a TSA-designated diversion point of entry for emergencies, we’ve chosen to pre-empt matters to maintain normal operations.”

Airports throughout the US were affected by the FAA’s decision to force one unpaid day off every two weeks for its 47,000 employees, including 15,000 flight controllers. 

The $637 million reduction in the FAA budget was challenged in the US Senate, where hastily revised legislation put an end to the furloughs, which delayed thousands of flights across the US in the first week alone.

“We’ve a long-standing reputation for never closing, no matter what the weather or other factors throw our way,” says Caruso. 

“The installation of pilot-controlled runway lights is another example of Bangor International remaining pro-active to ensure that it’s business as usual, no matter the pressures.”

Located on America’s north eastern seaboard, just 3,123 miles (5,026 km) from London, the New England airport is the closest US port of entry from Europe and provides the shortest trans-Atlantic crossing on the Great Circle route.

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