WASHINGTON, D.C. — Lawmakers are not happy with the FAA’s decision to close 149 contract air traffic control towers.
Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Ranking Member John Thune (R-SD) and House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) wrote Friday to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, expressing concerns about the potential impact on aviation safety due to the administration’s choice to close 149 contract towers around the country.
Specifically, Thune and Shuster requested information regarding the safety analysis done to ensure closing each tower, as well as so many towers at the same time, does not compromise safety. They also want a “detailed justification and explanation for how the FAA determined each contract tower would be closed.”
Meanwhile, Congressman Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ), chair of the House Aviation Subcommittee, said he was “deeply disappointed” in the FAA’s decision to close the towers “despite serious concerns from Congress, the aviation industry, local communities and the flying public.”
“I believe FAA has the necessary flexibility to find $50 million in savings from these tower closures elsewhere within their $9.7 billion Operations account,” he said. “Given the FAA’s first and most important mission is to ensure aviation safety, it is my expectation that a thorough safety risk assessment has been conducted for each and every proposed tower closures with input considered from airport personnel, the airlines, FAA staff, and other aviation operators. My committee has requested and is awaiting all information the FAA relied upon in making this decision. It is my concern that the Obama Administration’s decision to close these towers is merely to fit their public relations narrative about sequestration rather than sound policy and management practices.”