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.