Groups In Support Of Contract Towers

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It's not clear whether a collection of alphabet groups know something the rest of us don't but no fewer than six of them have penned a joint letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee urging continued funding and possible expansion of the Contract Tower program. The National Business Aviation Association, the American Association of Airport Executives, the Regional Airline Association, the National Air Transportation Association, the Cargo Airline Association and the National Association of State Aviation Officials wrote Ted Stevens, chair of the appropriations committee, recommending the $86 million for contract towers be maintained in 2005 and that $7 million be included in the budget for expansion of the program. The contract tower program now provides FAA-approved control services at 223 smaller U.S. airports and was recently lauded by the Department of Transportation's Inspector General for its safety record and cost-effectiveness. It should be noted that the National Association of Air Traffic Controllers, which staffs FAA towers, was highly critical of the Inspector General's findings during a budgetary scrap over the inclusion of some FAA towers in the contract program. The groups' letter doesn't appear to kick over that hornet's nest but suggests the extra $7 million be used to bring cost-sharing contract towers to airports that don't now have control services.