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FAA copes with storm disruptions in Austin, Texas, areaFAA copes with storm disruptions in Austin, Texas, area

Editor's note: This story was updated Nov. 5 with the latest information on the status of the tower and airspace flow program.

Normal control tower operations resumed at Texas’s Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on Nov. 4 after several days' disruption, but a traffic management program and other service limitations remained effective as central Texas recovered from severe thunderstorms and flooding that struck the area at the end of October, killing at least six people and knocking out much of Austin’s  air traffic control service.

A notam advised pilots to use the published frequencies 121.0 MHz for local control and 121.9 MHz for ground control when contacting the temporary tower, which was operating as a VFR tower. Houston Center (ZHU) was providing approach/departure control services for flights operating in and out of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Pilots can expect inbound and outbound delays and should check current notams for airport and air traffic control status.

An airspace flow program is in effect for flights operating into Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Austin Executive Airport, and Georgetown Municipal Airport, with affected flights to be issued expect departure clearance times (EDCTs).

Pilots can look up any EDCT for their specific flights here. The FAA estimated average delays of 221 minutes.

Pilots were urged to use extreme caution, as some landing clearances issued by the temporary tower, which controlled local traffic for seven days after the storms, informed pilots that landing was at their own risk, said Yasmina Platt, AOPA Central-Southwest regional manager. The small temporary ATC facility, located at the intersection of two taxiways, did not have unimpeded views of all movement areas, so controllers were unable to verify that a runway was cleared before issuing the landing clearance to an aircraft, she said.

The temporary control tower was helping to restore airport operations, but the long-term effect of flooding and other storm-related damage on airport infrastructure was yet to be evaluated, said Rune Duke, AOPA director of government affairs for airspace and air traffic.

The storms that swept through the Gulf Coast region caused record rainfall in Texas, and generated tornado sightings there and in Louisiana. In addition to those who lost their lives, several people were reported missing after floods swept away vehicles and low-lying areas were inundated.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: Airport Advocacy, Advocacy, ATC

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