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Tue, May 14, 2013

Letter Groups, Elected Officials Welcome DOT Contract Tower Decision

Statements Released By NBAA, AOPA Leadership

NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen welcomed Friday's announcement by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) that 149 contract air traffic control (ATC) towers, slated for closure next month, will instead remain open throughout the federal government's 2013 fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

“We applaud the decision by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to leave these towers open,” Bolen said. “As we have long said, these tower facilities are integral components in the world's safest, largest, most diverse and most efficient aviation system.
“Without the threat of imminent closure, DOT and the Federal Aviation Administration [FAA] will now have the additional time necessary to develop a thorough and informed plan to manage the agency's priorities under mandatory budget sequestration,” Bolen added.

"We are pleased that the FAA has decided to use the flexibility granted by Congress to keep 149 air traffic control towers open and operating as lawmakers intended," AOPA president and CEO Craig Fuller said in a statement. "The decision helps ensure the continued safety and efficiency of our general aviation airports and the national air transportation system as a whole. The entire aviation community has worked diligently for this outcome, and we hope that any future spending cuts necessitated by sequestration will be made only after a comprehensive and thoughtful evaluation of their impact on system users.”
There are about 500 control towers in the United States, and 251 of them are contract control towers operated by private companies. The contract tower program is recognized among the FAA’s most cost effective and successful programs in the history of the agency, Fuller said.

Politicians from both sides of the aisle used the move to try to make political points. “I’m glad that the Department of Transportation has used the resources that Congress provided to keep 149 contract air traffic control towers open through this fiscal year. This decision means that airports in many communities – including four in West Virginia – will continue to have access to critical air traffic control services," said Senate Commerce Committee chair John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV (D-WV) (pictured) in a statement released on the committee website. But, he added, "While this is good news for the travelling public, it is only a temporary fix. We will face the same dire consequences in October if House Republicans do not work with the Senate and the President to forge a balanced compromise to replace the sequester.”

“This is great news for the state of West Virginia and the First Congressional District,” said Rep. David McKinley (R-WV). “When it was announced the closure of these air traffic control towers would take place in June, it was nothing more than political maneuvering and posturing. This had nothing to do with wasteful spending and duplicity in government. This decision by the FAA proves political decisions can have a devastating effect on communities like Wheeling and Parkersburg by putting Americans at risk to make a political point.”

FMI: www.nbaa.org, www.aopa.org, http://commerce.senate.gov


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