U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) this week sent a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies (THUD) urging that members fully fund the Federal Aviation Administration’s FAA Contract Towers Program.
“It is critical that we invest in our country’s infrastructure and air safety,” Senator Manchin said. “Reliable transportation is crucial to our state and our country’s economy, jobs, and way of life, and I strongly urge my colleagues to fully fund the FAA’s Contract Tower Program.”
In the letter, the Senators wrote: “As you finalize negotiations on the fiscal year 2014 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, we urge you to include language ensuring full and dedicated funding for the Contract Tower Program as part of the fiscal year 2014 budget for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
“In response to mandatory sequestration cuts in 2013, FAA proposed to eliminate funding for 149 contract towers in the program, a disproportional cut that far exceeded the reductions to most areas of the agency’s budget. If implemented, this dramatic cut and the closure of the identified towers would have increased traffic at the remaining contract and FAA-operated towers and hindered the safety and integrity of general aviation operations.
“The contract tower program is one of the FAA’s most cost-effective programs. Contract towers handle approximately 28 percent of the nation’s air traffic control tower operations but they account for only 14 percent of the FAA’s total tower operations budget. Additionally, the average contract tower operates at one-third the cost of a federal control tower, though it is held to the same standard of excellence.”