A coalition of aviation groups, including the National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO) have written leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to reassert the vital role that contract air traffic control towers play in improving safety and saving taxpayer dollars, and made a simple request that language be included in a Federal Aviation Administration appropriations bill to ensure their continued operation.
“The FAA Contract Tower Program has provided cost-effective and essential air traffic safety services since 1982,” wrote J. Spencer Dickerson, Executive Director of the U.S. Contract Tower Association (USCTA) and the leaders of eight other aviation groups. “Together these 252 towers handle approximately 28 percent of all air traffic control tower (ATCT) aircraft operations in the U.S. but only account for about 14 percent of FAA’s overall budget allotted to ATCT tower operations,” the letter continued. “More importantly, the safety and efficiency record of the FAA Contract Tower Program has been validated numerous times by the DOT Inspector General, as well as by FAA safety audits.”
The House and Senate Appropriations Committees are currently working on an FAA appropriations bill that will set the agency’s funding for FY 2016, and the letter requests language ensuring that the contract towers are fully funded, which has strong bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. The language proposed in the letter simply ensures contract towers are fully funded from existing accounts and does not require an additional appropriation of limited taxpayer dollars.
The letter was sent this week to the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees and the respective Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Subcommittees.
In addition to NASAO, the letter was signed by leaders of the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), the Regional Airline Association, the National Air Transportation Association, Airports Council International – North America, the General Aviation Airport Council, the Air Traffic Control Association and the Cargo Airline Association.