WASHINGTON, D.C. – The FAA will delay the closures of all 149 federal contract air traffic control towers until June 15.
Last month, the FAA announced it would eliminate funding for these towers as part of the agency’s required $637 million budget cuts under sequestration.
This additional time will allow the agency to attempt to resolve multiple legal challenges to the closure decisions, FAA officials said in a prepared release. “As part of the tower closure implementation process, the agency continues to consult with airports and operators and review appropriate risk mitigations,” officials said. “Extending the transition deadline will give the FAA and airports more time to execute the changes to the National Airspace System.”
“This has been a complex process and we need to get this right,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Safety is our top priority. We will use this additional time to make sure communities and pilots understand the changes at their local airports.”
Approximately 50 airport authorities and other stakeholders have indicated they may join the FAA’s non-Federal Contract Tower program and fund the tower operations themselves, FAA officials noted. This additional time will allow the FAA to help facilitate that transition.
“We will continue our outreach to the user community to answer any questions and address their concerns about these tower closures,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.
On March 22, the FAA announced that it would stop federal funding for 149 contract towers across the country. A phased, four-week closure process was scheduled to begin Sunday, April 7. That phased closure process will no longer occur. Instead, the FAA will stop funding all 149 towers on June 15 and will close the facilities unless the airports decide to continue operations as a nonfederal contract tower, officials said.
For more information: FAA.gov
“FAA to cease funding contract towers”. Since when did the FAA fund anything? The taxpayers fund everything the FAA does, with the ticket tax or the fuel tax. The original legislation for the ticket tax was for airport development, but when the billions rolled in a major part of FAA funding was added, plus a part to the general fund, plus part of the weather bureau.
Accoring to the GAO contract towers are more efficient from a cost and errors basis than are FAA towers. Flight Service is now all contract. Make all FAA towers contract and save billions, plus help the FAA to get the egg off their collective faces.
Greg W says
The reduction of the budget increase by sequester should not close a single existing tower. The reductions have been named by several sources as still allowing a larger budget than last year for the FAA. If that is true then stop new construction, but facilities that have been open should be within the existing budget for operation. I believe that not all towers are required for safe operation. I fly into a non-tower airport that has airline service,the volume of traffic allows the airline to mix with the G.A. traffic as the ‘liners fly the traffic pattern like everyone else. This is nothing more than politics, throw a tantrum by causing as much fear and grief as possible and demand more tax dollars.