WMU aviation students could get hit hard by sequester

Updated: Friday, March 1 2013, 09:49 PM EST
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BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - For WMU Aviation students earning a degree takes hundreds of hours training in the sky.

But now students are worried it will be a lot more difficult to get those hours if federal budget cuts close the control tower at the Battle Creek airport where the school is based.

"In the end, it's a safety issue and it's really a cost issue because we're going to have to go elsewhere and these planes aren't cheap for students," says student and instructor Erik Hug.

WMU has one of the largest aviation schools in the country and for them no tower could mean a reduction in flights by as much as 40%.

"What that would do to us is require us to increase the spacing between aircraft we put into the air and also the number of planes we put in the air.  Safety is our number one concern and we have to have greater distance and fewer airplanes to maintain that," says WMU College of Aviation Associate Dean Raymond Thompson.

The control tower isn't scheduled to close for at least 30 days.  Thompson says in the meantime the school will try to figure out scheduling and whether they will fly to other airports for practice sessions. But doing that would also cost more for student pilots.

"We'll work around it, it will be a headache but as far as safety goes we'll have to take other steps to take care of it," says Hug.

Overall at WMU budget cuts could also lead to a reduction in study abroad trips and possibly fewer scholarships.
WMU aviation students could get hit hard by sequester
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