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FAA Plan to Close Control Towers a Flawed Policy Assault on Pilots: AOPA's Craig Fuller
DuPAGE, Ill. – A federal plan to impose across-the-board spending cuts by closing more than 200 active control towers nationwide will compromise air safety and “should not stand,” according to Craig Fuller, president and CEO of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA).
“The White House does not understand the consequences of these actions, or they do and they simply do not care,” Fuller said Thursday. “Either way, this approach is dangerous and should not stand.”
Speaking to a group of more than 100 pilots at an AOPA pilot town hall at DuPage Airport outside of Chicago, Fuller said that FAA cuts directed by the White House will have a serious impact on general aviation in the United States.
“We are on the eve of one of the most unfortunate and unnecessary actions ever taken by the Federal Aviation Administration,” Fuller said. “The FAA should use the flexibility it has to avoid a deep, across-the-country closure of air traffic control towers based on a flawed formula that shuts down towers because they serve general aviation.”
During his talk, Fuller put the blame for the FAA’s cuts squarely on the White House, which, with Congress, on March 1 imposed a series of “sequestration” spending cuts across federal agencies.
The FAA Friday will announce a plan to close more than 170 towers, with additional closures to follow. In all, the agency has said more than 200 towers will be affected.
DuPage Airport provided an apt backdrop for Fuller’s meeting with area pilots. Its tower is among those that may be closed due to sequestration despite the fact that DuPage is home to about 250 piston, turbine and rotor aircraft, and in 2012 supported 80,000 operations a year—approximately 220 takeoffs and landings each day.
Fuller noted that a proposal by Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran to leave control towers open by moving funds from non-essential accounts to FAA operations was opposed by the White House and not included in a Senate spending bill passed this week.
“This is nothing short of a policy assault by White House officials who stood in the way this week of a bipartisan solution, keeping the good work of Senator Moran from even coming to a vote….all for the purpose of imposing a degree of pain through budget cuts.”
Since 1939, AOPA has protected the freedom to fly for thousands of pilots, aircraft owners and aviation enthusiasts. With a membership base of nearly 400,000, AOPA is the largest aviation association in the world. From its headquarters in Frederick, M.D., offices in Washington, D.C., and with seven regional managers across the United States, AOPA provides member services that range from representation before federal, state, and local governments to legal services, flight planning products, safety courses and seminars, and award-winning media products. To learn more, visit www.aopa.org.
- AOPA -
March 22, 2013