April 2, 2013
By Alton K. Marsh
While local governments scramble for funds to reopen towers or send lawsuits to Washington, the immediate impact is clear: Unemployment rolls have expanded by at least 850 to 900 workers who operated contract control towers around the nation.
Shane Cordes, CEO of Midwest Air Traffic Control in Overland Park, Kan., said the effect on his company is “devastating.” He operated 69 of the 149 towers closed, and said 350 to 400 workers will lose their jobs. He said he was “quite disappointed” that a program considered to be “the epitome of cost-control for decades,” one repeatedly lauded for saving the government millions of dollars, should take a disproportionate amount of budget cuts. In a sequestration that required a 5-percent cutback government-wide, the contract tower program took what Cordes termed a “70-percent cut.”
“I believe that this program is a fantastic example of a government-industry partnership that should be mirrored, not eliminated,” Cordes said. “It is also quite disappointing that safety appears to be ‘number two’ behind politics. Air traffic control is an essential service that enhances greatly the safety and efficiency of the National Airspace System, and it should not be politicized.”
Another of the three companies operating contract towers, RVA Robinson Aviation, operated 96 towers before closure, but only 38 afterward. Employment at RVA was expected to drop from 560 to approximately 220. “It’s a setback, and a big one. We’ll regroup and push forward,” said Charlie Dove, president of RVA.
The final company, Serco, is publicly traded and could not officially comment on the cutbacks. Serco lost 31 towers that employed 150 people, a source said.
As this was written, the Texas Department of Transportation had hoped to fund 13 towers for 90 days as a temporary measure.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
FAA Information and Services,
Department of Transportation,
NEW SLEEP APNEA POLICY RESPONDS TO AOPA CONCERNS
A new FAA policy on obstructive sleep apnea that addresses many of the concerns raised by AOPA is scheduled to take effect March 2.
AOPA and the National Business Aviation Association have jointly filed an amicus, or friend of the court, brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals as part of the ongoing legal battle over the future of Santa Monica Municipal Airport.
VOLUNTEER AT AN AOPA FLY-IN NEAR YOU!
SHARE YOUR PASSION. VOLUNTEER AT AN AOPA FLY-IN. CLICK TO LEARN MORE >>>
VOLUNTEER LOCALLY AT AOPA FLY-IN! CLICK TO LEARN MORE >>>
BE A PART OF THE FLY-IN VOLUNTEER CREW! CLICK TO LEARN MORE >>>