The heads of general aviation’s alphabet groups have come together to call on members of Congress to preserve the FAA contract tower program through fiscal year (FY) 2014.
In an Oct. 28 letter sent to the lawmakers, the GA leaders urged members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to include language in the transportation appropriations bill appropriating at least $140 million in guaranteed funding for the contract towers through FY2014, regardless of any subsequent actions towards passing a federal budget.
“The inclusion of this important language as part of final legislation funding the [FAA] for FY 2014, in whatever form that may be, is absolutely critical to ensuring that operations continue throughout the fiscal year at the 251 FAA contract towers across the country,” reads the letter sent to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-5-KY), Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and other committee members.
Earlier this year, the FAA proposed closing 149 federal contract air traffic control towers, located at airports across the country, in order to meet budget-curtailment requirements in effect under federal budget sequestration.
The Department of Transportation and the FAA ultimately kept the towers in operation, due to congressional action that authorized funding to keep the facilities open through Sept. 30, the end of FY2013. The towers have remained open since then under a short-term continuing resolution, in lieu of federal budget authorization through the fiscal year.
“The towers are integral in ensuring that America’s aviation system remains the safest, largest and most efficient in the world,” said Ed Bolen, president of the National Business Aviation Association. “Without this funding, contract towers at airports throughout our country could once again be offered for closure, as agencies curtail operating budgets. We want Congress to understand that the towers need to remain open.”
Additional signatories to the letter include Stephen A. Alterman, president, Cargo Airline Association; Stanley Bernstein, president, Regional Air Cargo Carriers Association; Roger Cohen, president, Regional Airline Association; Pete Dumont, president, Air Traffic Control Association; Edward Faberman, president, Air Carrier Association of America; Thomas L. Hendricks, CEO and president, National Air Transportation Association; Jennifer Imo, executive director, General Aviation Airport Coalition; Deborah C. McElroy, interim president, Airports Council International – North America; and Henry M. Ogrodzinski, president, National Association of State Aviation Officials.