The Federal Aviation Administration has decided to delay the closing of 149 airport control towers until mid-June.
The Obama administration said it needed to cut funding for the towers — mostly in small communities — because of $637 million in budget cuts mandated by law.
"This additional time will allow the agency to attempt to resolve multiple legal challenges to the closure decisions," the FAA said in a statement. "Extending the transition deadline will give the FAA and airports more time to execute the changes to the National Airspace System."
Control towers at many small and medium-sized airports around the country are set to shut down next month because of the across-the-board federal budget cuts. The towers have been operated under contract to the Federal Aviation Administration.
One of the airports affected is in Latrobe, Pa., southeast of Pittsburgh — the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, named after the golf great who grew up a well-placed drive from the runway. A statue of Palmer watches over the small terminal.
In three years, the federal government is expected to open the skies for the civilian use of drones. But before that, the Federal Aviation Administration will set up six drone test sites around the country. Stiff competition to get one of the sites is anticipated — driven by hopes of attracting thousands of new jobs.