UVU Aviation Program experiences turbulence

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Due to possible closure of an air traffic control tower at the Provo Municipal Airport, 1,500 UVU aviation students will have to change how they fly.

FAA cutbacks from government sequestration could place as early as April 7, leaving just weeks for pilots to scramble and make adjustments as needed. There are only three control towers in Utah, and cutting one-third of them could cause a significant headache for aviation students and professional pilots.

“[Flying without a traffic control tower] is like a symphony without a conductor,” said Dr. Wayne Dornan, dean of UVU aviation and public services. “We are going to do whatever we can to avoid this closure.”

Screen Shot 2013-03-24 at 10.58.12 AMThe Aviation Department has been working relentlessly with a team of specialists, contacting Congressman Jason Chaffetz and the FAA while looking at practical solutions.

“We have been working almost a month on developing a whole new procedure to implement if this happens,” Dr. Dornan said.

Dornan also talked about a possibility of integrated control tower courses that would help keep the Provo tower up and running.

“We don’t want it to close, but if it does were ready,” Dornan said.

However, Dornan said that until plans have been finalized, classes will continue on as normal despite that as parts of their curriculum, students have to complete three specific takeoffs and landings to a full stop at an airport with an operating control tower, according to the private pilot training and certification manual.

“It’s cramped up there with all of the mountains and traffic”, said Kyle Pritchett, freshman aviation student. “I will just have to pay attention to where everyone else is and where I am.”

As with many other uncontrolled airports in the United States, future pilot students will have to become experts taking off and landing for any type of airport. Until finalizations have been made aviation students will simply have to adjust how they fly becoming absolutely aware of other planes.

As students train, safety will continue to be emphasized.

“Safety can never be compromised ever,” Dornan said.

With the largest collegiate diamond training aircraft in the United States, and Provo Airport’s biggest customer, the UVU Aviation program should continue to soar.

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