Washington D.C., May 6, 2013
- The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) today welcomed renewed calls to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) from a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives for using authority provided for in recently approved legislation to preserve 149 federal contract air traffic control (ATC) towers slated for closure next month under mandatory budget sequestration.
Last week, President Obama signed into law the Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013, authorizing the FAA to reallocated funds within its own budget to end employee furloughs at ATC towers across the country.
Tower proponents say the bill has also given the FAA the flexibility to use agency funding to stave off tower closures currently scheduled to begin June 15. Separate House and Senate letters sent last week to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Ray LaHood strongly reiterated that message.
"By providing up to $253 million in funding authority - far above the amount required to prevent furloughs - Congressional intent is clear: FAA must prevent the slated closure of 149 contract towers by fully funding the contract tower program," reads a May 2 letter co-written by Sens. Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and signed by 39 colleagues. Read the Senate letter to the FAA in its entirety. http://www.nbaa.org/advocacy/letters/20130502-Senate-Letter-to-DOT-FAA-on-Tower-Closures.pdf
In a letter authored by Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA-6) and Frederica Wilson (D-24-FL), and signed by 80 colleagues, lawmakers noted the national airspace system is "a comprehensive network of intertwined facilities," including contract control towers, and that the preservation of those facilities is "intrinsic to the authority granted in this law to ensure a safe and efficient air transportation system."
NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen expressed his appreciation for lawmakers' support in calling on the FAA and DOT to preserve the towers. "These contract tower facilities are vital components in maintaining our robust national airspace system as the safest, largest and most efficient in the world," Bolen said. "Congressional leaders have demonstrated their understanding of the importance of these facilities by allowing the FAA to reallocated funds as necessary to keep these towers open."
The FAA announced in early march its intent to close more than 100 federal contract towers in order to comply with budget sequestration, which requires all federal agencies to curtail their operational budgets for the remaining fiscal year ending Sept. 30.
NBAA and other aviation organizations have repeatedly met with FAA officials to outline the industry's concerns about the agency's tower-closure plan. On March 12, Bolen wrote FAA Administrator Michael Huerta outlining the Association's position on the plan, and offering suggestions to help mitigate the impact tower closings on operations. Review Bolen's letter in its entirety