FAA to close 149 towers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The FAA will close 149 federal contract towers beginning April 7 as part of the agency’s sequestration implementation plan. FAA officials made the decision to keep 24 federal contract towers open that had been previously proposed for closure “because doing so would have a negative impact on the national interest.”

An additional 16 federal contract towers under the “cost share” program will remain open because Congressional statute sets aside funds every fiscal year for these towers. These cost-share program funds are subject to sequestration but the required 5 percent cut will not result in tower closures.

“We heard from communities across the country about the importance of their towers and these were very tough decisions,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Unfortunately we are faced with a series of difficult choices that we have to make to reach the required cuts under sequestration.”

“We will work with the airports and the operators to ensure the procedures are in place to maintain the high level of safety at non-towered airports,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

In early March, FAA proposed to close 189 contract air traffic control towers as part of its plan to meet the $637 million in cuts required under budget sequestration. Officials said they would consider keeping open any of these towers if doing so would be in the national interest.

The national interest considerations included: (1) significant threats to national security as determined by the FAA in consultation with the Department of Defense or the Department of Homeland Security; (2) significant, adverse economic impact that is beyond the impact on a local community; (3) significant impact on multi-state transportation, communication or banking/financial networks; and (4) the extent to which an airport currently served by a contract tower is a critical diversionary airport to a large hub.

In addition to reviewing materials submitted on behalf of towers on the potential closure list, DOT consulted with the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, and conducted operational assessments of each potential tower closure on the national air transportation system.

Some communities will elect to participate in FAA’s non-federal tower program and assume the cost of continued, on-site air traffic control services at their airport, FAA officials said, noting they are “committed to facilitating this transition.”

The FAA will begin a four-week phased closure of the 149 federal contract towers beginning on April 7.

FAA Contract Tower Cost Share Sites Remaining Open

FAA Contract Tower Closure List

FAA Contract Towers Remaining Open






  1. BMikel says

    I would like to see a list of towers remaining open, i.e. FAA non contract towers
    and a cost comparison of closing vs non closing of ALL towers.

    Is the simple question being asked and answers by our AOPA and or Congressional elected representatives?

    If so where can i see it in print?>

  2. Chad Bessenger says

    I do believe that some towers could be safely closed down without a problem. However, how they choose the towers that can be closed down is essential because the main point in aviation is safety.

  3. says

    I can’t help but wonder if we, the aviation community and specifically GA, are missing a real opportunity in this. Pilots are trained for CTAF, and most GA pilots fly in/out of non-towered airports all the time…and prefer it. Many of these small towered airports serving airlines were part-time towers anyway, meaning that even those airline pilots are familiar with the process.

    I see this as a great opportunity for GA to showcase its safety, independent of government systems. It’s a way to encourage more people to fly (and learn to fly) without pressures typically associated with towers. Imagine if our industry leaders responded by saying, “We commend the FAA for recognizing how safe general aviation is and its ability to independently operate in airspace shared by commercial operations.”

  4. John Wesley says

    Lets be real here, the entire 189 contract towers and probably a hundred more could be safely closed and the industry would not be the worse for it.

  5. Chuck Raymond says

    Hummmmmm Florida had more airports shut down than any other state and most of the ones closed are big enough to support Military aircraft for National security and disaster relief.
    Dont see any around the White House shut down……………….
    OH i forgot the International Cargo distribution center is still on the table with the lobbyist and Washington to build the worlds largest cargo airport in the middle of nowhere on un-reclaimed Phosphate Land right in the middle of the state of Florida that will support Air-bus 380 and Dreamlines freight haulers. Minimum 1/1/2 for deliver trucks to get to major cities to start distribution. (Orlando / Tampa)
    They have already built a golf course / resort in the middle of old mining land and cattle country 1 1/2 to 2 hours from major cities that cost $400 plus for 9 holes.
    More to it than meets the eye………………

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