Alexandria, Va. -- A dozen associations representing a cross-section of aviation stakeholders is urging Congress to continue its support of FAA's Contract Tower Program, the public-industry partnership that has provided safe, cost-effective and efficient air traffic control tower services to hundreds of U.S. communities for 30 years.
The associations have asked Congress for $136.1 million for the fully funded contract towers as well as $10.35 million authorized for the continuation of the Contact Tower Cost-sharing Program.
"Full funding of the Contract Tower Program will permit continuation of this important FAA safety program and allow additional non-towered airports to receive the vital safety benefits of a control tower," the 12 organizations wrote in a letter to leaders of the House and Senate appropriations committees.
The FAA Contract Tower Program has provided hundreds of communities with cost-effective, efficient and safe air traffic services since 1982. Currently, 249 airports in 46 states participate in the program-airports that, absent the program, would not have air traffic control towers. FAA contract towers handle about 28 percent of all air traffic control tower (ATCT) aircraft operations in the U.S., but account for just 14 percent of FAA's overall ATCT budget. Most importantly, the safety and efficiency record of the FAA Contract Tower Program has been validated numerous times by the DOT Inspector General (IG) and FAA safety audits, as well as by the National Transportation Safety Board.
Every contract tower controller is an FAA-certified air traffic controller who meets the identical training and operating standards as FAA-employed controllers. Most have FAA or military air traffic control experience. FAA controls and oversees all aspects of the federal Contract Tower Program, including operating procedures, staffing plans, certification and medical tests of contract controllers, security and facility evaluations. Moreover, federal contract towers operate together with FAA-staffed facilities throughout the country as part of a unified national air traffic control system.
The letter was signed by the American Association of Airport Executives, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Regional Airline Association, National Business Aviation Association, National Association of State Aviation Officials, Airports Council International-North America, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Air Traffic Control Association, National Air Transportation Association, Cargo Airline Association, Air Carrier Association of America, and the Regional Air Cargo Carriers Association.
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The DOT IG is updating a 2003 report that showed contract towers to be at least as safe as FAA towers, and significantly more cost effective