GA Advocates Urge Contract-Tower Support

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Nine advocacy groups representing general aviation interests wrote to members of Congress this week urging support for the FAA’s contract tower program. About $172 million in funding is needed for the 254 towers now in the program, plus several new towers that are expected to be added in the next fiscal year, according to the letter. These towers now handle about 28 percent of all ATC tower operations, and because they cost less to operate than FAA towers, they save taxpayers about $200 million every year, the advocates said. Among the groups signing the letter (PDF) are AOPA, NBAA, NATA and the Regional Airline Association.

“FAA contract tower controllers do an excellent job of handling ATC services at hundreds of our nation’s smaller airports in rural communities,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “We believe funding for this program is essential to secure aviation safety and promote economic development. We encourage bipartisan support of this cost-effective government/industry partnership.”  The program supports towers at small airports in 46 states.

Comments (6)

Before securing any funding shouldn't a survey be conducted to determine what airports actually need towers? I know of at least three airports n Washington state that do not have nearly enough traffic to justify a tower, but they still have one.

As with anything else, let's make sure we need it before we allocate money for it.

Posted by: Steve Rush | March 6, 2018 5:33 PM    Report this comment

Let's just spend the money. It will stimulate the economy.

More money can always be printed at any time.

Posted by: Jeff Land | March 6, 2018 9:46 PM    Report this comment

While I agree that some airports are devoid of justification...there is a definite need at some airports for contract towers. There is always a cost/need study involved and then the negotiation/bid for the tower.

Those who just dismiss this is as frivolous spending, have never flown into one of the airports identified with a need.

Posted by: Kevin K | March 7, 2018 8:02 AM    Report this comment

hmm, I hope they have explained to the members of congress what's the difference between strong opposition to privatizing the FAA, which seems to now be off the table, and this proposal to privatize FAA towers.... Why do we think it's a good idea to have a company run FAA towers while we thought it was NOT a good idea to have a company run the whole FAA...

Posted by: Joe Wuensche | March 7, 2018 9:32 AM    Report this comment

Joe, the difference is quite a bit more than the superficial look you took at it. Comparing a singular tower and its operation to the entire FAA infrastructure/operation/NEXGEN/etc. Not to mention the oversight at contract towers is negligible. Training is accelerated to the point of rushing a trainee through 30 days to checkout. Granted all controllers working contract towers have previous experience either with the DOD/military or retired FAA controllers of at least age 50, most over 56.

Posted by: Kevin K | March 7, 2018 10:53 AM    Report this comment

"Comparing a singular tower and its operation to the entire FAA infrastructure/operation/NEXGEN/etc"

Is he comparing a single tower and it's operaton to the entire FAA infrastructure? Are these nine advocacy groups wanting support for a single tower or, over 250 of them?

A privatized system within ATC; with over 250 sites, negligible oversight, producing qualified controllers in 30 days, saving the taxpayer $200 mill a year, and nine advocacy groups wanting more of them.

Is this an argument for or against privatization?

Posted by: Robert Ore | March 7, 2018 9:22 PM    Report this comment

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