FAA plan to close towers a ‘flawed policy assault on pilots’

DUPAGE, Ill. — A federal plan to impose across-the-board spending cuts by closing 149 active control towers nationwide will compromise air safety and “should not stand,” according to Craig Fuller, president and CEO of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA).

“The White House does not understand the consequences of these actions, or they do and they simply do not care,” Fuller said. “Either way, this approach is dangerous and should not stand.”

Speaking to a group of more than 100 pilots at an AOPA pilot town hall at DuPage Airport outside of Chicago, Fuller said that FAA cuts directed by the White House will have a serious impact on general aviation in the United States.

“We are on the eve of one of the most unfortunate and unnecessary actions ever taken by the Federal Aviation Administration,” Fuller said. “The FAA should use the flexibility it has to avoid a deep, across-the-country closure of air traffic control towers based on a flawed formula that shuts down towers because they serve general aviation.”

During his talk on March 21, Fuller put the blame for the FAA’s cuts squarely on the White House, which, with Congress, on March 1 imposed a series of sequestration spending cuts across federal agencies.

On Friday, March 22, the FAA announced it will close 147 towers starting April 7.

DuPage Airport provided an apt backdrop for Fuller’s meeting with area pilots. Its tower is among those that may be closed due to sequestration despite the fact that DuPage is home to about 250 piston, turbine and rotor aircraft, and in 2012 supported 80,000 operations a year — approximately 220 takeoffs and landings each day. DuPage’s tower is staffed by FAA controllers, not contract controllers, so it was not included in the first round of closures.

Fuller noted that a proposal by Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran to leave control towers open by moving funds from non-essential accounts to FAA operations was opposed by the White House and not included in a Senate spending bill passed this week.

“This is nothing short of a policy assault by White House officials who stood in the way this week of a bipartisan solution, keeping the good work of Senator Moran from even coming to a vote….all for the purpose of imposing a degree of pain through budget cuts.”

For more information: AOPA.org.


  1. ManyDecadeGA says

    Most of these low volume towers should never have been opened in the first place. It is good to finally stop the pork, and close them. Mr. Fuller, AOPA, and the Connecticut political figures are flat wrong in both their approach and assertions. They can’t have it both ways, arguing for useless low volume towers or their off-hour ops, extra redundant FSSs, and completely obsolete fluff like WAAS, or airspace wasting LPV (versus using better and less expensive RNP), and then claim they shouldn’t pay user fees. AOPA and FAA both need to realign their INSs. Further, just because a tower is closed doesn’t mean you can’t do IFR any more if the RCOs and needed frequencies are remoted properly. As for Connecticut,… and places like Johnstown PA (Murtha memorial), if you want to keep them open, … have your State legislature pay for it, or pay for it yourself. Or send the bill straight to Craig Fuller, or to your local pilot association. But don’t ask us taxpayers and real and lifelong AOPA members to be paying for it. Yes, we even safely operate wide body jets at some of the same airports as C150s, and without a tower… (I can cite specific examples) ….each pilot just needs to pay attention. There are 4 forces need for flight…. Lift, Drag, Thrust, and Weight. In spite what FAA might think at times, an Air Traffic Control Tower is not one of them.

    • Monty says

      My hope…
      Washington, FAA, and others come to a realizations that FAA needs to be completely reorganized. Much of what they do is a complete waste of money. If aviation really wants to grow get the thorn out of our side, cut FAA funding and watch FAA pull the plug on amany restrictions and requirements they will not be able to enforce.

  2. Tug says

    All these comments sound like our politicians–Republicans and Democrats-Wish everyone would take their party hats off and do what is best for the American people. it is obviously that closing the towers decrease the safety of aviation. The real losers are the tower personal and the people who will buy the farm because of this decision.

  3. Mitch says

    Stop blaiming Fuller for trying to be honest. As an accomplished pilot myself, I’ve always thought of pilots as more intelligent than most. Some of these comments make me wonder. From 2006 to 2009, Bush, Pelosi and Reid put us into a steep descent. In 2009, Obama grabbed the yoke and turned a descent into a nearly unrecoverable spin. Open your eyes and ears and understand the difference while we may still have enough altitude to recover. Closing most of these towers is unnecessary and should have been researched. This is another cynical move, just like closing the White House to school tours, to try to back up the sequestration lie in the most visible and painful way. This move will leave ONE operating control tower in the entire State of Connecticut. I can’t imagine what it will be like getting an IFR clearance or the confusion and work load this will add to major air traffic control centers.

    If you don’t understand this by now, you need to be more skeptical of your sources of information. Don’t take what your hear in the media for granted – do your homework and look further for the truth. This administration is going for absolute control by dividing all of us, and divided we fall, folks!

    • Husam Taha says

      I agree with you Mitch. I also would like to add that our nation has decided to move backwards into the past, unlike China and India who decided to move forward. China is almost there and is about to beat us in space race and India is also on the move while our incompetent politicians think they know it all not to realize that their unhealthy decisions are threatening the safety of the people in the air as well as on the ground. If they need to make budget cuts then they should take a pay cut because I know for sure none of them are worth the salary they get paid.

      I know many politicians don’t care or rather don’t like or agree with having small regional airports, they believe only in big regional airports in big cities. They don’t realize that flight schools have limited access to airspace around big airports. I don’t even think they believe in flight schools. They just don’t get it.

      If we don’t wake up soon, then we will become the old U.S.S.R.

      • says

        There’s a bigger issue here that so many people don’t recognize. Budget cuts and tower closures means limited access to runways. That means commercial airlines will have to pay more to takeoff and to land and they’ll pass that cost down to their customers. That also means that flight schools, especially atp schools like skyeagleaviation.com, will have bigger bills to pay every month. A lot of these schools will increase their tuition which means fewer pilots, both commercial and otherwise. If you’re trying to fix the economy, throwing a wrench into your transportation infrastructure is probably one of the most counterproductive things you can do.

  4. Roger Halstead says

    It is my opinion that the administration not only knows the ramifications of the tower closings, but intentionally is working to make the impact as strongly felt as possible regardless of how safety is impacted. Remember this administration’s trademark is to blame failures on others and to take credit for the successes of others. If it’s the blame game they want it to be as newsworthy and spectacular as possible.. Are they concerned about safety? Does the name Benghazi sound familiar? There we are talking about top ranking government officials, so do you think they care about a few civilians?

    • Richard hilaire says

      Roger, you hit it on the head, These childish selfish morons in both parties are more interested in poking eachother in the eye, than they are of the public safety and good. Same way July 2011, when the same poking caused the stock market to plummet and lost most retirees 40% of their savings. It is beyond comprehensable this situation, and I am extremely frustrated with the whole government.

  5. Glen Sullivan says

    Like most of the comments made, wait until a accident occurs, because the ATC tower was unmanned.

    The people who’s decisions to close the towers will say, “look how much money the government saved while the towers were closed”. However, how much are these lives worth? The answer is of course: PRICELESS. Lets just put it like this, if “Air Force One” was going to land at one of these airports, with a closed tower, would the government (FAA) reopen the tower for this event? If the answer is yes, then why close these air traffic control towers.

    We must put safety as the top priority in aviation. If we do not, lets save a ton of government money and do-a-way with the FAA enforcement division. (Flight Standard District Offices or FSDO)

    As a pilot for over 40 years, I would rather spend the money for air traffic controllers rather than, trying to find out if someone is doing something wrong. As long as I’m in the plane’s cockpit, I will always make sure the plane is safe as it can possibly be. It’s my job and more important, it’s my life.

    • Monty says

      Could you let us know how many of the towered air strips that are closing have runways that will support Air Force One? Either from a weight perspective or length point if view, without looking myself I doubt if any of the airports closing towers would qualify for AF1 flights in or out.

      I am all for this, it should have been done a long, long, time back.

      • Roger Halstead says

        You are forgetting that FAA towers are not closing regardless of size. I think you will find that some of the contract towers are larger and cheaper to operate than FAA towers kept operating.

  6. James says

    Well you sure aren’t interested in stopping them by charging commercial operators for services or closing tax loopholes…everyone wants something for nothing…

  7. Steve says

    I’m flying Light Sport from a Class-C airport, but also fly into and out of non-tower locations. CTAF rules get me into the air or onto the ground as necessary. I’m in contact with departure and arrival controllers as soon as I’m airborne, and up to within ten miles of landing. My chief concern with the tower closures is avoiding wake turbulence from faster and heavier aircraft, which I’m able to accomplish with a good set of Mark-2 eyeballs. I’m able to get out of the way of faster aircraft, and do so when advised by those pilots. We’re talking TWR here, folks. Not CTR, not DEP — TWR. The one rule I would like to see implemented, and one which might be necessary under these current non-towered circumstances, is mandatory radio. I think the time of NORAD operations is over. But what do I know?

  8. Don Fowler says

    While the FAA believes that the closure of 149 Federal Contract Tower (FCT) will have no significant FAA or aviation safety impact, the OIG Audit Report AV-2013-009, November 5, 2012 indicates otherwise. Specifically, the OIG Report compared 30 FCT with 30 FAA comparable towers and determined that an FCT operated at $1.5 million less cost per year than an FAA Tower. Also the FCT had far less yearly aviation incidents and operational safety issues than comparable FAA Tower.

    Since 1982, Congress has funded and the FAA has implemented 250 FCT at airports prompted by the FAA PATCO strike of 1981 when numerous FAA Towers were closed due to 12,000 striking controllers being fired.

    Based upon the FCT cost saving versus FAA Towers, the FAA should have consider closing all existing FAA Towers with operational ATC level 7 or below, 60 + facilities , and making them a FCT with a cost savings of $1.5 million per facility year. Aside, the FAA cost to close most of these FCT s (i.e., FAA buildings, equipment, manpower, lease, contracts. layoff, etc.) has to be significant near term.

    This is just another FAA Management knee jerk action base on half-as? thoughts and analysis!

  9. Bill Chambers says

    Plain and Simple, closing towers will affect operations on the ground and in the air. For those airports with light traffic not so much, with those with medium loads a little, for those with heavier traffic much more so. Throw in a mix of humanity in the form of those not proficient, those timid or reluctant or impatient, jammed CTAF freqs, small slow with fast or big , can you see the picture forming. Can it/Has it been done without these towers, sure, perhaps in many cases it has been a long time since some of these fields were non towered so stay on your toes..the transition will be fraught I think. And watch out for whats next…

    • Roger Halstead says

      Just think of a student announcing they are down wind to base on a very crowded CTAF and a DC-9 announces 5 mile final. Student doesn’t see any one and maybe didn’t hear the DC-9 or it just didn’t register so he/she happily proceeds to turn final in front of the DC 9, now only about 3/4 mile out who may or may not have heard the 150 IF the student remembered to announce the turn to final AND gets the airport right AND is not covered up by another transmission.

      My faith in this? I’d check to make sure my commercial flights were going into towered airports. Having spent about the last 20 years mixing high performance, complex, retracts with commercial traffic at towered airports, experience leads me to that decision.

      • Jim says

        Then this hypothetical student better get better training and that DC-9 pilot better pay more attention. If they don’t hear each other or don’t talk to each other what are the chances they will hear or talk to the hypothetical tower? And why, in this hypothetical environment, is this DC-9 on a 5 mile final (straight in approach I assume) anyway? I base at an airport with very heavy student activity (associated with a University flight program), 2 runways and heavy corporate jet activity. No tower, no problems.

        • Roger Halstead says

          Not every airport has the perfect students, or commercial pilots.

          I’ve flown out of a non towered airport for well over 20 years. I’ve only had one close call. It was 737 flying through well below where he should have been, or about 200 feet below our pattern altitude (bout 12 – 15 years ago). When I lowered the nose st the end of our 3800 ft runway there he was about a whole 20 feet away.

          I’ve been on a circle to land and had the tower misspeak…I think, and cleared me right in front of a departing airliner. Actually that was many years ago, on my instrument check ride, I was complimented for catching it almost instantly.

          When you go to a strange airport you never know what to expect, so expect the unexpected. I do not have your faith in the general population.

          I’ve flown long enough that if it can happen, it will.

  10. Dave in pa says

    Mr. Fuller,
    The President didn’t decide to close these towers as your quote claims. Congress agreed to the sequastrian cuts, and tower closures are collateral damage. Along with many other government programs, necessary and otherwise. I’m sure you and your old friend Bush will enjoy a cozy retirement on our dime.
    Glad to see you go.
    AOPA 00908XXX

    • Jim says

      Were you at the DuPage meeting? I was. What was said was that Republicans and Democrats in both the House and Senate favored giving the FAA the flexibility to achieve the mandated financial cuts in a way that would maximize safety. It was the White House that squashed this very reasonable, bipartisan plan. Also remember where this current sequester idea originated. For those with short term memory issues, it originated with the White House! That is not a political OPINION, it is a historical FACT

  11. Monty says

    Craig, please stop trying to scare the crowd. Dangerous, really, you think it is dangerous?

    I can not believe a man with as many hours as you have would believe this. Use your radio buddy and you will be just fine, unless of course your vision is affected.

    This country waste so much money on regulatory groups and that scares me. I think that is dangerous, much more so than non occupied towers at lightly traveled air strips. If it were I the FAA budget would be facing an across the board 75% reduction. As for control towers, they should be self sufficient and if not there are two options. Shutdown the airport or pilots do what they do at other non towered runways.

  12. Erik says

    Mr. Fuller is right that it is a dangerous approach (no pun intended). But he is dead wrong otherwise. Our President understands the consequences, and he DOES care… about inflicting the maximum pain on the population, so he’ll get to blame them on the (Republican part of) Congress for max political gain.

    Please stop thinking that our President isn’t smart. He’s intelligent and street smart – but he often has goals that are very different from what one would normally envision.

  13. Capt. John G. says

    It’s one thing for GA using a non-towered field, basically all traveling around the same speed. BUT how about Martin State Airport in Maryland (one of the towers scheduled to close) where you have GA, business jets, the ANG’s C-27’s and A-10’s ALL vying for the same runway. Can you imagine an A-10 on final, seconds from touchdown, when a Cessena pulls out on the active for takeoff. I only pray that there are no accidents, much less fatalities because of an ill informed Congress.

    • Jim says

      Why is that “Cessena” (sic) any more likely to pull out on the active runway at a non towered airport than at a towered one?

    • Richard Smith says

      We were told out in Contractor Land, that an airport with 10,000 military ops or more per year would not be closed. Surely, your airport has that??

  14. Paul Cebeci says

    All the money spent at Frederick, Maryland Airport (FDK) tower was what a waste. Why do you need a tower when you don’t hear more then 10 aircraft taking of and landing each day.. Several millions of dollars were spend. We go back the square one… The way used to be…. To quick to spend tax payers money…. I

    • John Lightfoot says

      Hey Paul,
      I can’t argue amount tax payers money being wasted, but having been based @ KFDK for 31 years, it was a pleasant surprise for the “TOWER” operation. Frederick was using the ability for those Jets coming in and that too helps pay back $$$$$$$. What about Hagerstown Tower, MD closing.. all those commerical flights cancelled as well. Is that helping the TAX PAYER? Again just a respectful thought….

    • atcforlife says

      This is not the first one. Many of these towers were created with pork/earmarks and need to excised from the FAA’s operational budget.

  15. John Lightfoot says

    Wait until the first person gets hurts and you will see a twisted media report against the GOP that will run out of control. Power and Control Breeds Power and Control!! Just a thought!!

  16. Jim B says

    Fuller, the “leader” that brought us the Wine Club is now bringing us the Whine Club. With the decline in student starts and gas over $6 a gallon, traffic is way down and the traffic counts originally used to justify the addition of a tower at many airports has gone out the window. Airports with movements over 150K/year are probably still better off with a tower, especially if there is more than one runway, but the one runway strips with 21K movements should have been closed down a long time ago. The only reason the quiet fields have an ATC is as noted above-some politician flexing his muscles showing the local folks just how powerful he thinks he is.

  17. says

    Shutting down 149 towers? Yes, some are quiet as a graveyard and can afford to go. But such as swath only paves the road for more “swaths” to come. Can you say, “justified” user-fees? Washington is watching. If we rationalize by saying, “We’ll make due”, “Fuller’s full of crap”, or “I prefer non-towered airports anyway”…we lose our strength to keep airports (let alone control towers) open.

  18. Dave K says

    I have mixed feelings on the tower closures. Like some of the people wrote, I too spent many hours operating out of non-towered or uncontrolled airports, and with the exception of a couple of inconsiderate pilots, didn’t have any issues or feel unsafe. I drive by Cobb County airport in Kennesaw GA quite often, which use to be a non-towered airport, and in the past four to five years have noted the place looks like a ghost town. Lots of aircraft parked on the tarmac but not many flying. It’s become sort of a rare treat to drive by and see an airplane fly in or out of there. I’ve often wondered what do those guys in the tower do all day to keep occupied?

    I believe the decision to close the tower should be based on the count of fight operations per hour, and not counting some one doing 20 touch and goes as 20 flight operations to inflate the number, to determine which towers stay open and which close. For example the DuPage County 220 operations per day in the article. What does that really work out to? Are there a couple hours a day when it gets a little busy but then the rest of the day it’s like 5 operations per hour? Come on, do we really need someone to tell us “clear to land” or “clear to take off” in this case? We have rules governing operations at uncontrolled airports that are not that difficult to follow.

    • Steve P says

      Agree some towered fields don’t have the volume to justify a tower. If so the feds should have closed the 149 lowest volume TOWERS – not the lowest volume CONTRACT towers. Many closed towers are higher volume than FAA towers that will remain. There is a lot of politcal BS in this and nobody in the media has seemed to figure out that tower closures have not been based only on volume. The low volume very high cost FAA towers remain.

    • Glen Sullivan says

      Dave you need to realize the two most important parts of the flight are the takeoff and landing. ATC helps out so much transitioning from departure and arrivals. (ATC Approach Control) Beside our eyes in the cockpit, they are the most important people involved in our whole flight.

      Don’t forget a 300 hour pilot flying around, landing on any runway he wants to with the weather at 1,200 feet and the visibly is at 4 miles, with no radio. We both are following all of the rules, but this is going to be an accident, waiting to happen.

      We all need to look at the big picture!!

      Safety should be everyone first priority!!!

      • Richard Smith says

        At an un-towered airport, who decides if the visibility is “4 miles?” The pilot can legally arrive/depart when HE decides that visibility is ONE flight mile or better, ASOS/AWOS be damned ( and they are notoriously unreliable ). We are back to the Wild West, every pilot for himself. Ya’ll be careful now, Heah ??

    • Mitch says

      “and in the past four to five years have noted the place looks like a ghost town. Lots of aircraft parked on the tarmac but not many flying.”

      Yes, it’s the same here in Connecticut. Not long ago we were paying $1.95/gallon for 100LL and the skies were buzzing with happy pilots. You don’t suppose the current average price of $6/gallon could have anything to do with this, do you? After the BP accident in the gulf, a panel of “experts” was commissioned, headed by Ken Salazar, to determine whether a moritorium on oil drilling was necessary. The panel concluded that it was NOT warranted, and yet the administration went ahead with the moritorium and denial of drilling permits to this day (can you also say “Keystone Pipeline?”). Big decisions have big consequences.

    • atcforlife says

      Hear Hear! You hit the nail on the head. Based on FAA establishment criteria, many of these are boondoggles/wasted tax dollars even if they are less expensive than FAA towers.

  19. Jim Wright says

    You are missing the real intent of this whole dance. This administration does not give a rats behind about the safety of aircraft operators or the public. Mr. Obama’s direction and his intention is to make this as hard on the public as possible in hopes he will turn the public against the people who are standing in the way of him spending as much as he wants and bankrupting the country. The entire blame for this mess rests completely with Mr. Obama.

      • Pete Palumbo says

        Your analysis is absolutely correct Jim. Unfortunately there are people like Karl out there that have bought into this administrations lies. It is very obvious that when one resorts to name calling as Karl has, his intelligence must be called into question. Perhaps not all the tower closings are incorrect, however there are many situations where prop and jet aircraft mix and because of cross runways and their lengths, the arrival/departure ends of each cannot be seen. Tower closings at airports such as these will sadly result in substantially reduced safety and it’s only a matter of time until two aircraft colide and lives are lost. It happened in Quincy, IL a few years ago on an airport such as I’ve described. At that point, because of tower closings, both the government and the FAA will be liable, and all to make a political point.

        • says

          Well said, Pete. Not all closings are a tragedy but some could be and that’s the administration’s hope. Oh, and you’re right about the Kool-Aid Karls as well.

      • Brian Flynn says

        I actually would like to see the demonization on both sides stop. You’re both doing exactly what you accuse the FAA, the President and the GOP of doing.

        The truth is – PILOTS make flying safe. If ATC made us safe, we would never fly without it, would we?

      • Jim says

        Jim Wright is correct. If you were at the DuPage meeting you would better understand what Craig Fuller actually said. Also we need to remember where this current sequester idea originated. For those with short term memory issues, it originated with the White House! That is not a political OPINION, it is a historical FACT! Yes, the GOP does want spending cuts. What was said by Craig Fuller was that Republicans and Democrats in both the House and Senate favored giving the FAA the flexibility to achieve the mandated financial cuts in a way that would maximize safety. It was the White House that squashed this very reasonable, bipartisan plan.

        • Dennis Reiley says

          Sequester originated because the GOP insisted in cutting costs without raising taxes. It was the administration’s attempt at compromise to encourage the GOP to allow some tax increases. Without GOP opposition to tax increases sequester would never have occurred, which means it lies completely on the shoulders of the GOP.

          • Doug Paulson says

            Yes Dennis. That is the truth. And AOPA should take a turn and rethink the NRA approach.

          • Jim says

            That is great circular logic. It is just as valid to say that if the White House had not insisted on raising taxes and not reducing spending sequester wouldn’t have happened. Nonetheless, it was the White House’s idea and the GOP went along with it. So blame the GOP for agreeing with the White House!

          • Dennis Reiley says

            There is a little flaw in your logic, the big increase in the National Deficit occurred because of the Bush tax cuts aggravated by wars in Iraq and Iran. You cannot dramatically increase spending without increasing taxes and that is exactly what several administrations did. You also cannot eliminate the incurred debt by cutting costs (which is desperately needed) without increasing taxes. The GOP is acting like slave holders who whip the slave to work harder ignoring the fact that the whipping weakens the slave. The slave being the taxpayers.

          • Jim says

            Take off the blinders. We are talking about CURRENT spending. The current White House has had 5 years to work on fixing the problem and it is getting worse at an ever increasing rate. Past time to take ownership of the problem and fix it, and stop blaming someone else. btw, taxes have been raised.

      • says

        Not really the whole truth, Dennis. The GOP wants spending to be in line with revenue, and the administration, like a spoiled child, is taking the cuts where they will cause the most damage — and make the least sense. Remember, the Sequester was Obama’s idea.

        • Dennis Reiley says

          On the surface you are correct, but you are ignoring the law of diminishing returns. The recession we’ve experienced is a case in point. The economy is controlled by spending, the less spending, the slower the economy. Spending in the private sector is much preferable to government spending. Yet there is a certain minimum government spending required to support the current population, wasteful spending can be cut but the GOP wants to cut certain programs whose need has been proven. One thing that could be easily cut and few politicians on either side of the aisle want to cut is funding programs without an expiration date.

        • Dennis Reiley says

          No the administration has opposed wasting tax dollars since day one. The GOP wants to cut programs they don’t want, a big difference.

          • Mitch says

            “The trouble with our Liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant; it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.”

            Ronald Reagan

          • Mitch says

            I don’t want to get personal, Dennis, but you seem determined to prove the effectiveness of media propaganda. Now ask yourself why a bipartisan proposal for sensible ways of preventing the tower closures was blocked by Harry Reid from any consideration by the Senate.

          • Mitch says

            If you come up with a truthful answer to that question, maybe you can also figure out why Harry Reid has blocked EVERY sensible proposal that would balance the budget in the past few years. You won’t hear anyone who you are obviously listening to discussing THAT.

          • Dennis Reiley says

            Both sides of the aisle tend to be self-serving. But my response was about those who blame the administration for sequestration when the GOP is mainly at fault. There is too much “my way or the highway” on capital hill.

    • Rick Enders says

      You are exactly right. Obama has been distroying this Country every since he was elected president while he rakes all the big bucks. He spends and spends (might I say, on himself) and never for the good of the public. He is in his last term of office as president and he will do anything he wants to bankrupt this country as long as he and his family lives in the rich lime light. All he ever does is talk with big words of how he is going to help this Country get on it feet and help the poor, get new jobs and how the economy is growing, BUT, he directly causes the loss of thousands of jobs and jeopardizes (Put (someone or something) into a situation in which there is a danger of loss, harm, or failure) the safety of thousands of Pilots, passengers and persons on the ground and a cause of hundreds if not thousands of lost job’s in the Aviation sector. I wonder how he would like to take off and land in some of the airports in Airforce 1 that he closed the towers at with all the student pilots learning to fly at and some legally without operating radios. After this Country is bankrupted, he will still have his million’s of dollars to continue on while everyone else continues to suffer….

  20. Lee says

    I flew aerial data acquisition work all over the country for three years – flying out of places like Ramona, CA, McKinney, TX, and San Marcos, TX, for weeks at a time. Those airports are losing their towers. I couldn’t understand why they had towers to start with, based on the traffic (or lack thereof) that I encountered. I figured it was just some Representative or Senator wanting to flex their muscle. If the rest of the list is made up of airports with similar traffic numbers, I can’t buy the “compromise to safety” argument.

    • Neal says

      I’m based at McKinney. I agree it could do without…for now…but it’s growing. Cutter would not have built that FBO and brought in all of those mechanics to work there if it weren’t growing. Stop by there now and look in the maintenance hangar, it’s persistently full. Note all of the bizjet hangars that are springing up on the west side too.

      Non towered airports under the DFW bravo are ghost towns. You can’t reliably get out without clearance on the ground, approach is too busy to take random calls just up from a non towered field. I’ve left from Rockwall many times and had them take 12-15 minutes to get 5 seconds between breaths for a my call to be answered.

      And yeah closing the Redbud tower while leaving Grand Prairie open is probably a direct assault on Republican fundraisers, with Redbud being the closest GA airport to downtown Dallas. But you know what? Screw them, they are the force behind this just as they were when the government “shut down” in the mid 90s. And where was that cost cutting fervor when Bush Jr came in with a Republican congress? Nowhere to be found.

      I’ll give their boy Romney credit for at least being honest, in saying that he wanted to cut taxes and give the pittance of money left to the Pentagon while simply writing off 47% of the population. The rest aren’t nearly as up front about their intentions.

      It just so happens that we wound up on the front line in Obama and Boehner’s house cleaning session. They’re erasing the giant mistake that is the Tea Party, when they’re gone we’ll be back to business as usual…

      • Lee says

        I hear what you’re saying re: McKinney’s growth. I’ve flown in and out of McKinney, Addison, Redbird and Mesquite several times in the past six months. I haven’t compared the movement counts, but Mesquite has seemed busier than either Redbird or McKinney the times I’ve been in and out. Perhaps I’ve been lucky, but I haven’t had the problems you’ve described getting into and out of DFW Class B. Coming in isn’t really a factor as I’m always talking to center beforehand, so a handoff is a handoff is a handoff. (I’m generally in a C210 or PA31) Going out or to another airport in Class B can be a dance, but I just plan ahead a bit. If I can stay under the veil VFR, I do that. Unless I’m taking off from somewhere like Mesquite or Rockwall and going to Love or Addison, I’ll take a 10 minute detour to get outside or under. If I’m going out IFR (from a non-tower field), I call on my phone when I’ve finished my runup to get my clearance….. that makes it a very quick initial callup to regional apch.
        The silliest thing the FAA did, IMHO, to “promote” safety of late was LaHood’s knee-jerk decision a year or so ago that there would always be two controllers in the towers so if one fell asleep, there would be another to prod them awake. What a joke. These were towers that, generally speaking, were having a hard time justifying staying open that late, for starters.

  21. Terry D Welander says

    Aircraft takeoffs and departures or aircraft movements below a minimum threshold of 150,000 per year appear to be what set the tower closures based on another article. Or 410 aircraft movements per day on average; which seems reasonable. The airports removed from the contract tower closure list; national security concerns were cited without details.

    It appears the FAA decided to close these towers based on the very low traffic count; which appears very sensible. Even national security concerns appear to be an unreasonable stretch for leaving 29 contract towers open. Where are the specific safety concerns for these low traffic count contract tower closures; especially compared to the other 5000 plus non tower U.S. airports? The appearance is AOPA is at least catering to, if not pandering to the corporate interests based at these contract tower closure airports. Divide and conquer appears in place here and AOPA has taken the bait. Who will help stop AOPA from being baited on these contract tower closures?
    We are all taxed way too much. And the government spends way, way, way too much money. The waste appears incomprehensible and they are blind to it. If the corporate interests want their contract towers, the option appears available for them to pay for it;
    not the taxpayers. This appears to be a near ideal place to start to stop this beyond huge U.S. Federal Government spending crap hole.

    • Brian Hannan says

      I’m not taking a position but several thoughts from a US AOPA member in Australia. The USA lower 48 is about a quarter larger than Oz albeit you have much more traffic.
      We have 28 towers total, very limited radar coverage, GA and ultralights mixing it with airliners in Class G regional locations … and a similar safety record to the USA (most of our non-capital city airspace is Class G with Class E at higher levels – due to the lack of surveillance.
      You have massive radar coverage that we do not (thus our early move to ADS-B) much of yours to 1000′ AGL so the tower presence is even less critical for you in my opinion.
      The problem with hammering “safety” as a current crisis with the tower closures is that if there are not a spate of accidents the scene is set for more cuts in a year or two.
      We already have “user pays” so the airlines who pay the bulk of navigation charges wield the big stick out here.
      I believe those of you suggesting the current position is over-nurturing pilots recognise that world economies can no longer fund utopia and some responsible tidying up is needed.

  22. 3rd Class says

    I see a lot of anger directed towards the FAA by many of you. You claim the FAA has done nothing but cause regulatory burden and attacked GA. Bet most of those comments are from folks who can’t pass an FAA third class medical. I’m sorry that the protection and safety of the greater public is an impediment to your selfish desire to exercise the privilege of flying ad infinitum…ability, competency, and safety be damned!!
    If you are angry now, wait until the FAA shoots down the EAA/AOPA proposal in a few months. Be happy you can fly Sport.

    • Daf says


      That’s the best comment you can come up with? I have a FIRST Class medical, and I firmly believe the FAA does nothing but cause regulatory burdens to justify its own existence. As far as flight medicals, the whole program is ludicrous. If you want to fly a jumbo with 300+ pax, the FAA SHOULD issue a medical certificate. If you fly for leisure, you should not need a medical – period. The 3rd class medical has NOTHING to do with “ability, competency, and safety”. It never has, and it never will.

      Are you even a pilot? More likely, you just read Flying Magazine.

      That said, this discussion was about closing contract towers. It’s a manifestation of B. Hussein’s desire for the sequestration cuts to be as painful to the public as possible. The funny thing is that the cuts in general (not related to the FAA) have a disproportionate impact on the morons that voted for this moron in the first place.

  23. Bud says

    These cuts were planned specifically to make them as painful and as dsangerous as the possibly could, so that each of use will become frightened and scream at our legislators to fix it, and then ACCEPT the massive tax increases they want to pay for it all. Which it won’t.
    We all know there are many many other cuts they could have, and should have made other than these, but these cuts creat the most trauma, and danger to GA and to the public.
    It’s a disgraceful and disgusting tactic used by this administration, who I feel is very much anti-GA.

    • Brian Flynn says

      Do you know that it was intended to make it painful? Because if you have evidence that an FAA official is intentionally compromising safety for political gain, don’t tell us. Tell the Washington Post. Otherwise, you have an opinion.
      My home field in NC has over 62,000 operations per year, more than any of the five planned towered closures in NC. We have everything from Cubs to King Airs to Leers landing there and we make it work….WE make it safe. If tower closures compromise safety, it will not be the closure, but US that make it dangerous.

  24. DByers says


    Does anyone in the aviation community actually believe the FAA can simultaneously close 149 Towers like in the next two weeks and not expect something bad to happen? We are talking about 8.5 million operations handled by just these 149 facilities in CY 2012 (look it up). The FAA’s own statistical data suggests that the accident rate potential (based on the differential between Tower vs Non-Tower) is 1.8 mid-air collisions per million operations (Google “APO 90-7” for the detailed report). Use an average of two occupants per aircraft (times two because it is a mid-air). Now do the math but be sure to divide by two to account for just the six months until the beginning of the next fiscal year – when sequestration ends. I come up with 30 people. FAA says that you are worth $9.1 million as someone spared an untimely death in a preventable accident. I come up with $273 million in lives saved. You know how much FAA is saving by closing the 149 contract towers? Try $32.8 million.

    FAA has been strangely silent on this safety issue, which is especially odd since they have been using this formula for the past 15 years forcing Contract Towers to justify their existence by providing a SAFETY benefit (measure in the value of lives saved) that more than covers the costs to hire controllers. The fact that you still have contract Towers out there is a testament to the success of this program

    FAA also has a safety risk management analysis process that they themselves have not conducted, or at least released for public review. I’d sure like to see how they figure this can be safe, on a case by case basis and the collective impact on the integrity of the National Airspace System.

    Ray LaHood himself has said this is coming a higher authority than his office, which only leaves one more mail stop at 1600 Pennsylvania. Politics – you betcha!

    Personally, I’d like to talk to the person who decided that this program should be used to demonstrate how painful sequestration can be (out of all the other discretionary costs in the FAA – why ATC towers?) Shut down the White House tours – no one gets killed, Close the restrooms at a National Park – no one gets killed. Close down 149 Control Towers – if only one person is hurt as a result, that’s one too many for me.

    Craig Fuller is absolutely correct, closing these towers will compromise safety.

    Y’all fly safe out there.

    • Paul Weintraub says

      I am wondering where all these PRO TOWER CLOSING arguments are coming from. Most do not sound like people who actually fly. Believe me, when you are flying a jet into a non towered field with a 172 ahead of you and no one to mitigate, there is going to be some price to pay. I recently overflew Islip and heard the conversation between the tower and a 172 doing practice ILS approaches and a Southwest 737 behind him. Without a tower, how would that go down?

      • Jim says

        Hopefully the 737 would have been on the CTA frequency as well as the 172 and they would have worked that out. One of the fields I fly out of has a heavy mix of corporate jets and student activity (with 2 runways) and they seem to always work it out quite well.

        • says

          For many years the aopa has decried the FAA and their continuing grab of more and more control of the airspace. Now we have a chance to get some freedom back and they are complaining of the loss of control. You can’t have your cake and eat it to.

  25. Jack A. Milavic says

    As a retired military and commercial pilot I feel fully confident that I can operate out of most non FAA controlled towered airports without compromise to safety. Yes, ATC is a great information service but when flying without them we simply exercise more diligent see and avoid practices. I would hope AOPA would be able to view the entire aviation community without prejudice and make logical comments.

    • Eric Holby says

      I agree. We operate 9 corporate jets into many non-tower airports and never see it as an issue. When traffic is light, there is no reason to keep the tower open.

  26. T. Olsen says

    Any mishap or accident at any of these airports that the closure will affect will create huge finger pointing. Many of the towers likely should have closed long ago and were more of annoyance to even have to talk to them. Others as in the tower in Hailey, Idaho that is set to close services Sun Valley, Idaho and all the big money contributors to many campaigns on both sides of the isle in their high dollar birds. Watch this one get pulled out of the mix. This airport can be very dangerous and Salt Lake Center passes pilots off for approach and tower communications. Many of the comments tend to attack Fuller for stating the obvious and the comments tend to lean a bit left. Forget Fuller’s previous agenda and look at this specific item…..it is only the beginning to other measures that the Obaman admin will push for. They look down on and resent people who can afford to fly on their own. PERIOD!

    • Bernardo Melendez says

      While at the same time spending freely in vacations all over the world. The VP’s hotel and meals costs for his latest fun excursion totaled about 1 million dollars. Sure seems the administration wants us all to cut back while they soend like drunken sailors (sorry about that sailors).
      Sounds a lot to me like the way dictators run things.

      • Dennis Reiley says

        If there is a single runway or parallel runways a tower is not needed. Too many pilots want ATC to hold their hand and tell them what to do rather than pay attention to other nearby aircraft, which is always required, ATC or not.

  27. Tom Curl says

    Seems like more divide and conquer. First it was the airlines against GA, now the bizjets against the Cubs. It seems to me that if the entire FAA was shut down the Cub crowd would do just fine, might even prosper. The only thing the FAA has done for me is cost me money, both directly and as a taxpayer, and, of course, kept me busy trying to avoid breaking some, often stupid, regulation.

    Clearly AOPA, at least at the management level, cares a whole lot less for the interests of pleasure and sport flyers than it does for business operators.

    While the EAA is certainly focused on the experimantal sector, it does a good job of representing pleasure/sport flyers too, whether they fly Cubs, P-38s, or somthing in between, even if it has turbine engine(s).

    If you have an opiion, vote with you dues payments!

    • Jon O says

      Not suggesting you’re way off base, Tom Curl, but in the midst of that line of thought we should all consider that the sequester began as a giant political linchpin that was hoped to be left alone, in theory, like a large-scale version of tempting children to eat their veggies with the promise they could avoid doing a chore. Congress went with doing their chore (not admirably, in this case).

      We now have many political pins pulled. Fuller and AOPA may be more interested in bizav than Cubs, while I don’t think that is so, but this FAA move not will impact pilots directly, evidenced by comments here, so much as it will impact the impressions of others. This is not about harming pilots, but harming the industry, I fear.

      That is where Fuller’s rhetoric is a far more classy response than is that which he is responding to. Congress holds the purse strings but Obama suggested this at the outset, and he was the chief rhetorician on the horrific outcome, and then changed his rhetoric once it came to be to assure us that it wasn’t going to be so bad. POLITICS. And Fuller, AOPA as well as many others in aviation and far outside it are having to play an idiotic and divisive game the way Obama wants to play it. What other choice do we have? We always have to appreciate the motives of actions and account for that when we look at response. And, sadly, it’s not about jobs or fixing fiscal matters for the one setting the tone, in my view, it’s about politics.

      Remember who’s creating this tumult, let that settle in before guessing where the responses are coming from. We can’t talk straight with Obama because he rarely is capable of it, he’s all game and blame.

      It isn’t AOPA’s leanings that deserve suspicion in this count, it’s Obama, Congress and the federal gov’t generally (such as your view that there are stupid regs) that are messing with our lives and livelihoods, all being dragged through it. Unless we can push back hard here, and elsewhere, to get off the grass and back onto the tarmac, who knows where this silliness will go?

      • Elliott Walsh says

        It saddens me to see Fuller dragging the AOPA into the fray as a partisan player on the GOP side of the aisle by parroting the Republican pap that the administration at this point has any say in sequestration cuts. This problem began with Congress, specifically the failure of House Republicans to pass a budget. It continues with the failure of House Republicans to pass a budget, and cannot end until House Republicans agree to set aside partisan politics, AND WORK TO PASS A BUDGET. It is not in the administration’s power to do Congress’s job. Squwaking on about how the President is closing towers is at best a shallow partisan lie, and at its worst evidence that the leadership of the AOPA is incapable of rational thought or discourse.

        I am very close to cancelling my membership.

  28. K Babb says

    I feel badly for the controllers but if it comes down to it none of us want the other end of this deal being pushed so badly by the current Administration: user fees. The burden of safe flying rests with us in the airplanes communicating in a clear and timely manner. AOPA is becoming less relevant every day with Fuller at the helm. Hopefully a leader focused on improving GA, not the cash flow of AOPA, will be the board’s next selection. I don’t know if they realize that stronger GA = more pilots interested in keeping up with news and events, not more suckers interested in buying their life insurance, legal plans or wine of the month. And yes, I am a member.
    TOWER CLOSINGS ARE A DISTRACTION FOLKS! Stay on point against user fees as that WILL be the death of recreational/small business GA. Only the high-flyers will be in the skies at that point.

  29. SKoeppel says

    Single runway airports generally operate safely without a control tower. Winds usually favor one runway and the pilots negotiate their spacing on CTAF or Unicom. Problems occur more often at multi-runway airports when the winds don’t favor a particular runway. Pilots, being the independent group they are, have a hard time agreeing on which runway to use.

    Maybe a bigger issue is that of the IFR pilot picking up a clearance or canceling after they land. Airports with a RCAG site to the controlling facility have a distinct advantage. The pilot is able to cancel as soon as he/she is VMC or down allowing the next arrival to be cleared for approach. I worked the Brunswick, Georgia airports at SSI (McKinnon) and BQK (Golden Isles) and found the regular pilots were very adept at cancelling as soon as possible. Having direct communication with pilots allowed me to negotiate rapid departures between arrivals. Quite frankly it would take longer to coordinate through a tower or flight service. If you have to close a tower, give me direct communication on the ground.

  30. Richard Smith says

    These are CONTRACT TOWERS closing, not FAA towers. The FAA contracted to keep these towers open in the interest of safety for the pilots and people of the local nearby communities, and now, money is more important than safety. The FAA is known as the “Tombstone Agency” because they never fix problems until people die. They are paying lip service when the FAA spokesman says safety will not be affected at these airports. I throw the BS flag.

    • atcforlife says

      Not exactly. Many of these towers were forced into the FAA’s budget via pork/earmarks. It had nothing to do with “safety” but political interference.

      • Roger Halstead says

        And many of these towers are truly needed.

        Sure a lot of us have flown into non towered airports, but if one has the traffic to support a tower, I’d not feel comfortable flying in there after they closed the tower

        OTOH with 10 or 15 flights a day they need a tower?

        It’s an individual thing and some of these contract towers are needed more than the lesser used FAA towers.

        Plus, like LORAN, they are going to strip out the equipment so they either can not be put back in service, or doing so will be very expensive.

  31. Chilli Palmer says

    This article is spot on. Anyone thinking this is not the White House’s doing is wearing rose-colored glasses. I know people that work for the FAA with do-nothing jobs and they are not affected at all by the sequester, however people that are actually doing important work are being affected. I know other federal government employees at different agencies that are also disproportionately affected – seems everywhere the political appointees continue to make out like bandits while the average joe worker takes it on the chin!

    • D.Salvatore says

      I agree Mr. Fuller is very slanted in his views. The sequestration was agreed to by both parties, because they thought when the time came around both parties would work out some compromise. To throw this on the back of just the White House and this Administration alone shows his lack of neutrality, which should be part of his demeanor as head of AOPA. I’m very disappointed.

  32. Allen says

    While his methodology and motives may be questionable, the truth is, the tower closures are a problem. You can convince yourself any way you want that it will be fine without them, but the safety and efficiency of the national airspace system will suffer when we loose hundreds of towers across the country. The contract tower program is one of the most successful government programs created. These towers are able to provide the same level of service as an FAA tower at a fraction of the cost. It is fair to say that closing some of these towers may not affect safety that much, however some of them will. The only way to figure out the impact is to do studies. The FAA has even put out guidance on discontinuing tower service!

    When did they do the studies outlined in FAA-APO-90-7? Never. Unique situations that warrant a tower at many of these airports were obviously not considered. A complete disgrace when the FAA expects other people to follow their guidance and regulations.

    All of this to save a few pennies in the grand scheme of things. Hopefully politicians wake up soon and hopefully AOPA can keep pressure on the government and keep the FAA accountable. These closure single out GA and the contract tower program and do not follow the FAA’s mision and vision statement.

  33. C. David Buchanan says

    As pilots we are well trained to strategically identify risks, we resulting in plans that mitigate those risks and provide a margin of safety. With practiced precision, we execute each approach tactically preserving margins, never allowing the aircraft to “get ahead” of us. The freedom to conduct flight activities we enjoy, and from which many of us prosper has socio-economic risks requiring identification, planning, and approach excitation on par with the care, control, and precision of flight.

    We have more than the right we have the responsibility to question those processes which result in decisions to reduce hours and/or close specific Air Traffic Control Towers. We further have the right and responsibility to recommend, even insist on changes to these decisions where they may be flawed.

    General Aviation pilots know, limiting ATC Tower services will result in inconveniences. However, we also know that absent these entitlements, by exercising diligence in planning for and execution of flights in and around the affected areas, our training and our skills are in many cases capable of maintaining and even improving the current level of safety.

    I beg, we approach our complaints in these matters carefully. Else these arguments may falsely pre-arm our contrarians. Arguments that purport a dependence on government assistance to achieve safe flight operations may be turned back on us. Such an occurrence could prove detrimental to the freedom we currently enjoy.

    • says

      I agree. In layman’s terms, if we cry safety now, the argument that we General Aviation pilots can fly safely at non towered airports will probably be easily challenged in the future.

      I feel bad for those losing their jobs because of all this but, we pilots can get through this.

  34. pilotman46 says

    The Whitehouse is making the cuts that are most likely to scare people into presuring congress to raise taxes and spending. We as pilots will be as safe as we make ourselves- the same as now. I have had more close calls at tower controlled airports, due to controller’s errors than I have had at non-controlled airports.. BTW, pilots are the controllers- the guys in the towers are coordinators.

  35. Austin says

    Over zealous & vociferous “soap boxing” is the only way one attracts attention to a cause in our society. Maybe Mr Fuller is a little overboard in his diatribes; however, if he wasn’t, the “powers that be” wouldn’t be able to gauge public sentiment. Your imperial government would unceremoniously shackle us with fees & regulations, such as they have in Europe; and, GA would suffer mightily. Unfortunately, Europeans don’t have much say in their government, just as we are slowly mimicking; but, picking up speed exponentially.
    Ever growing government imposes its will upon free enterprise to aid those who seek protection from their own folly. The end result oftentimes is to deprive them of that which they seek.
    Ave, Imperator, morituri te salutant”

  36. Bill Brown says

    Mr. Fuller needs to lower the partisanship and recognize the necessity to hold all parties accountable. As mentioned in an earlier post, both parties voted for this process and now the pain begins. Defense, transportation, education, national parks, all aspects of government are dealing with this unnecessary mess that should have been worked out in a sane, deliberative manner. Until the extremes are toned down and intelligent debate, compromise and decision/budget making in a responsible manner are evident then we all suffer. We can do better Mr. Fuller, contribute to the solution instead of taking cheap shots.

  37. says

    Lord, it sounds like pvt pilots and all others are finally waking up to reality. Remenber, what happened in the past yrs is , and will continue to show its ugly head. For you youngster, who never heard that tree falling in the woods, well what more can I say.

  38. Larry Simpson says

    Aviation is the one sector of this country where we have all worked together to be as safe, professional and courteous as possible. If the AOPA is to represent aviation, and myself, it MUST leave all politically opinions off the table. Professional aviators to weekend pilots we are all in this together and this is the only way can we continue to have the best aviation system in the world.

  39. Paul Weintraub says

    As a flight instructor at a busy airport in the Northeast, I can attest to the safety problem that will come from losing towers. Although my airport got a last minute reprieve, several other airports in the vicinity handling a mix of business jets, airline traffic, pleasure and training aircraft, police helicopters, news helicopters, got their towers axed. Yes, we do use non-towered fields for training, but when it gets thick with traffic, typically we just move on to another field. The training necessary for students to learn to interface with ATC is imperative and with fewer towers, those remaining will necessarily get more training traffic. Further, these “secondary” towers have been used as atc personnel training towers and now more training of ATC personnel will take place at larger, busier towers where mistakes can have more catastrophic consequences. How is this a good idea? Is there waste? Unfortunately it is not always predictable. Yes, on bad weather days fewer flights will be using secondary towers, and on better days when a lot of personal and training flights take place you can find yourself #7 or #9 for the field. Could hours be curtailed at some of these secondary towers. Probably. It is very easy to see how much traffic is recorded and adjust the open hours accordingly. Does the AOPA over-react? Sometimes, but personally, I learned to fly in France. I have first hand knowledge of the unfriendly European skies and believe me, that is not something we want. It is a lose-lose situation there and the AOPA is struggling to avoid that coming here and I support them in that.

  40. Steve says

    Completely political and slanted information from an organization the purports to represent aviation but actually just supports the rich. AOPA couldnt care less about those of us flying less than 100k dollar airplanes. So what if our 100 dollar hamburger becomes a 150 dollars. Just so he and his buddies dont have to pay a fee to use federal services. That 100 dollar fee the administration proposes is less than they pay for snacks on every flight.

    • Jim says

      Did you miss the part about once the fee system is in place and the bureaucracy to support it is there those fees will flow down hill to everyone of us in aviation? If you don’t believe that look at US history and Europe.

  41. Forrest says

    I began flying only about two years ago, which is also when I became a proud AOPA member, believing it to be what it purports to be – nonpartisan organization created for the benefit of GA. Now I am beginning to see a striking similarity between the AOPA and the NRA, with respects to both its political affiliation and its dissemination of misinformation.

    If this perception continues, I will take my future membership dues and use them for more constructive purposes.

    • Jim says

      What the NRA and AOPA do have in common is that they are both looking to the future. And they both understand history. Give a little today and we will be forced to give a lot tomorrow so we have to fight to retain our rights today or we will have none tomorrow.

  42. Doug Paulson says

    AOPA has lost its way in it’s self generated fog of anti-Obama rhetoric.
    Don’t know if I should have renewed my membership.

  43. S.S. McDonald says

    I disagree with Mr. Fuller (except that the White House occupant is pushing another of his denigrating agendas) . Most of the control towers being closed are truly useless bureaucracy-enhancers. Many are a product of local politicians who took federal grant money (Taxpayer money) to feather their resume with their look-at-us, we’re-a-big-deal-airport-now mentality. It’s time for Mr. Fuller’s replacement to be presented to the membership. AOPA 34480

  44. Hiram Jones says

    Here in Southern California Obama’s tower closure will affect many EXTREMELY busy airports. And not only those where the towers will be closed; many of our airports are close or even abutting or underlying Class C or even B airspace. Whiteman Airport, for example, abuts both Class D Van Nuys and Class C Burbank, and underlies a shelf of Burbank. Whiteman is extremely busy, so is Burbank. And Van Nuys is one of the busiest non-airline fields in the country. The topography here also forces much of Whiteman traffic to transition through Van Nuys and/or Burbank. Whiteman, bluntly put, is far too busy a place to be without a tower. The same goes for other local airports under the gun. For example, Santa Monica is one of the busiest single strip airports in the country, and is so close to Los Angeles Intl. that the towers have to coordinate IFR departures with each other. The tower closures will absolutely cause more danger for everyone, and I’m willing to bet that they’ll lead to midairs.

  45. Keith Gordon says

    I so glad Mr Fuller is leaving AOPA. If he was not leaving, I would. He’s just another hack for the repubs. Goodbye.

    • Fritz Katz says

      How unsurprising a statement coming from you, Roy. Fuller sycophant. Did he call you and ask you to post tht? You’re not exactly the Jim Campbell follow-on when it comes to giving critical coverage of aviation issues and personalities in your assorted pandering media outlets now are you? Maybe someday if they ever get traction and you ever grow a pair. We can hope.
      When you wrote this whining little protest timestamped 0933 you KNEW Fuller has been lying about the flight fees and orchestrating for personal political reasons the massive anti-Obama AOPA disinformation campaign echoing his “$100 for every flight in every little bugsmasher” lies. Doesn’t bother you. Is lying to ingratiate yourself with the “big guns” now all part of the “game”? Is this just a phase you have to go through… like your best buddy DanJohnson’s early years misleading consumers by lying for Erwin about CZAW quality, manufacturing capacity and product lines?
      Jesus… aviation was once the last ethical, traditional occupation/avocation left in this country with aviation safety built on and lives depending on honesty (ex.: ASRS) not personal/political gain. And you once had potential… for doing good not just turning a profit.

        • Fritz Katz says

          Mockery. Not an acceptable substitute for truth, Roy. You’re confirming my worst suspicions and crushing my hopes you might actually evolve into a reliable source for credible information someday without your thusfar selfish and mercenary motives,.
          As a prospectively responsible “journalist” did you actually read the Bill before joining Fuller’s political-not-national-interests attack on it?
          Did you or did you not give Fuller a “pass” for blatantly lying about the impact of the $100 per flight proposal? I mean before doing so here.
          Have you or have you not had DanJohnson shilling for his manufacturer masters on your call-in show dozens of times and hung up on callers who asked him why just a few years ago he kept defending Erwin and CZAW in the face of the ongoing fraud and concealing from both prospective and delivered buyers Mermaid/Parrot non-production and initial Sport Cruiser airworthiness defects that eventually cost him the company?
          You thereby became complicit in that deception.
          See what I mean about your being no Jim Campbell?

          • says

            Not mockery.


            You confirmed my worst suspicions about yourself years ago. You act very brave behind an alias. You work to tear others down who don’t agree with you, but always from behind a rock. You are intellectually bankrupt and a hypocrite, but at least you remain entertaining.

            You should take a page from Jim Campbell. When he writes something, he signs it ‘Jim Campbell’, not Fritz Katz.

            But I understand your fears. If you sign something, the black helicopters might be able to triangulate on you. Shudders. Then it would be the whole tin foil suit and I know its getting warm there in the Florida swamp.


    • Dennis Reiley says

      It may be obvious, but Fuller needs to complain to the GOP. This is happening because they want to cut costs without raising taxes. All these cuts are directly on the shoulders of the GOP and nowhere else.

      • Chilli Palmer says

        Ridiculous, Obama is from Chicago, same place they tore up Miegs field under cover of darkness, against FARs by the way. The Chicago Way mentality is ingrained in Obama and his advisors and this is how they play – their way or the highway…

        • Jim says

          So true. And if you were at the DuPage meeting as I was you even better understand that Craig Fuller was only relating facts, not making any “political” statements.

      • Terry Tevis says

        Several towered airports that I fly into have student training. My home field (OJC) is one such airport. We have two large flight schools and will lose our tower next week. I am concerned. There will be far more accidents on the ground and in the air.

      • Jim says

        “All these cuts are directly on the shoulders of the GOP and nowhere else.” Here we should be concentrating on supporting what is best for aviation and not trying to promote our various political agendas. But we should also remain truthful and factual. So we need to remember where this current sequester idea originated. For those with short term memory issues, it originated with the White House! That is not a political OPINION, it is a historical FACT!

  46. says

    I see far more politics here by Fuller/AOPA then by the White House. I have concerns about the White House, no doubt, but IMHO there is no evidence that FAA is acting any differently due to pressures from outside. In fact, every action FAA has taken thus far on this sequester threat has fit perfectly with FAA’s past past record, which has always been focused on manipulating Congress for more money. So, if White House is driving this (as declared by Fuller), then it always has been driving FAA … in which case, we need a full-scale dismantling of FAA to end this quagmire of waste.

    As for the ATC tower closings, the data (easily found online, within recent FAA reports, DoT-IG studies, etc.) shows that FAA has been stacking extra controllers into small towers where, due to gas costs and economic contraction, operations have substantially declined. The result is something of an inversion; we have many uncontrolled airports with far more activity than nearby controlled airports; we have contract towers getting the same job done for $550K/year (average) vs. $1.5M/year (typical) at a comparable FAA tower. In the meantime, there are dozens of FAA managers in just the Seattle area making $180K plus annually, but we hear nothing about their sequester. And, overall, even commercial aviation is contracting; far fewer operations at most major U.S. airports, and some (CVG, PIT, STL, etc.) are virtual ghosts due to airline mergers and relocations. Not a healthy situation…

    Fuller would be more on point if he abandoned the partisan politics and asked this: How many successful companies deal with change by cutting the efficient aspects of the business while sustaining the waste?

  47. John Wesley says

    Shut up Craig, they can close a good 1/2 of the towers in this country without effecting safety, they may have been needed 30 years ago, but with the current drop in air traffic, not anymore.

  48. Steve Schell says

    Once the bureaucracy is in place to collect the $100 fee “just for turbines” it will be easy to impliment it for pistions. Small at first, but ever increasing.
    The AOPA is against user fees because they will compromise safety and they require another collection agency. Instead the AOPA has lobbied for fuel taxes, and using aviation funds for aviation. The more fuel you use, the more you are using the system, and the heavier your aircraft, (requiring longer, heavier runways), the more you pay in taxes. A simple system for collection already in place.

    • Jim Scott says

      Mr. Schell, you sould like the NRA’s preposterous “domino theory.” If the government does ANYTHING to regulate it will therefore do EVERYTHING.

      I take exception to Fuller’s utterly false right wing agenda putting this all on the Whitehouse. Study of on your civics lessons Mr. Fuller. Neither Obama, nor any other POTUS has ever voted for…against or AT ALL on a piece of legislation. Sequestration is totally on CONGRESS and in fact, totally on the GOP Stoneheads…many of whom, such as Ryan et. al. made public statements that they were FINE with sequestration.

      But now that the REQUIRED cuts are being made they are whining like stuck pigs. Having said all that, it is clear that LaHood is the biggest idiot…among many…to have ever run the DOT.

      But back to Fuller, having been an AOPA member beginning in the early 1970’s I fear that we have the wrong man at the helm…one who seems bent on turning AOPA into an over-the-top strident political entity like the NRA.


    • Jim says

      This is very simple and easily shown by US history and what has happened in Europe. Why is it so hard for so many people to understand this?

  49. Fritz Katz says

    Lying gasbag Fuller. Isn’t he the same disgraceful clown who spent most of last year insisting that the Obama budget would mean $100 per flight fees for every J3 Cub taking every weekend hop to the next county…..despite KNOWing it would only affect his turbine pals?
    If AOPA wants to have a future, they need to shut this guy up and park him at the country club till his overdue retirement

    • Jim says

      Please, stop twisting things like the main stream media does. He said that is where we will end up once per flight fees get stated. If you don’t believe it start studying history, and look at Europe. It can, and will, happen in the US if we let that horse out of the barn.

  50. 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.”

    • Darrell says

      “. . . most GA pilots fly in/out of non-towered airports all the time…and prefer it.” I agree that many of these underutilized towers could and should be closed. I find that the controllers in many of these seldom used fields occasionally seem to be unaware of what is going on at the field. After receiving permission to takeoff I’ve had to ask more than once to get them to perform tasks like turning on the runway lights after dark.

      P.S. I am a former controller so I have some idea what goes on in the tower when traffic is seldom and sporadic.

    • says

      I was thinking the same thing. It wasn’t too long ago that we had to defend against the closure of a non towered airport by local officials because of their unjustified fears of pilots “flying every which way and crashing into another.”

      Definitely an opportunity here for us to look at a bigger picture and finally show the pubic how truly well trained us general aviation pilots are.

      We aren’t just handed a license.

  51. says

    Putting political parties aside – it takes $$MONEY$$ to make machines run in this country – at least the last time I looked – so WHERE does that come from – trees?

  52. Bryan says

    Once again Mr Fuller acts in accordance with the agenda of his political party and not the best interest of GA.

    “Places the blame squarely on the whitehouse”, despite the fact that all Republicans in Congress and the Senate voted for this “Sequester”, so they could get government cuts they wanted. The sequestration is the fault of both parties. Period and nothing follows.

    Protecting contract towers is especially important to this Republican operative. It privatizes government infrastructure, a key goal of Mr. Fuller’s political party. Privatized ATC has resulted in user fees in Europe and Asia. Mr. Fuller is supposedly against user fees….hmmm.

    BTW run a google search on Craig Fuller and the word Republican. You will find he has other concerns that trump aviation safety.

    • Jim says

      Were you at the DuPage meeting? I was. What was said was that Republicans and Democrats in both the House and Senate favored giving the FAA the flexibility to achieve the mandated financial cuts in a way that would maximize safety. It was the White House that squashed this very reasonable, bipartisan plan.

      • William B says

        Jim, if what you say is true, then why didn’t the congress pass a bipartisan bill to fix this problem? I don’t recall hearing of or seeing one. You were at the DuPage meeting, listening to Craig Fuller, whose GOP connections are well documented, tell you that congress wanted to fix this and the White House said “no.” Did you ever consider that he was slanting the information he was giving you? I just Googled “congress/airport/tower/closing” and found ZERO articles about any congressional proposals like the one you refer to. If you can provide us with a link to information about it, please do so.

        • Mitch says

          I’m amazed at how few people understand what goes on with these proposals in the Congress. In fact, a proposal was given to Harry Reid (you know, the Senate Majority Leader who decides WHAT actually gets voted on in the Senate) who decided to block this from being considered for a vote! This is what he does with every bill or proposal that doesn’t fit his agenda.

        • Roger Halstead says

          The problem wit “The main stream news” is they normally ignore anything that can be perceived as native toward the current administration and can not be depended on for unbiased reporting.

          Did it or did it not happen? I don’t know. However I did read a remark on Bloomberg news made by ? about a week ago that the department heads should not go out of their way to reduce the impact of sequestration cuts

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