The Contract Tower Program exemplifies how the federal government and the private sector can work together to bring about air traffic safety in a proven, cost-effective manner, says a letter from 105 members of Congress to President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence.
As the incoming administration reviews federal agencies and programs for importance, cost-effectiveness, and regulatory relief, the members of Congress sought to call attention to the 30-year-old program’s ability to safely connect small-town America’s airports to the rest of the country.
The members noted that air traffic control towers operating under the Contract Tower Program handle 28 percent of all U.S. air traffic control tower operations, but account for only 14 percent of the FAA’s budget allotted to such operations, saving taxpayers about $1.98 billion over the last 10 years.
The vast majority of controllers hired by the private contractors are former FAA or military controllers, “and approximately 70 percent of these contract controllers are veterans,” the letter said.
It added that the Contract Tower Program’s safety and efficiency record “has been validated in numerous reports” by the Transportation Department’s Inspector General and by FAA safety audits.
Last March, AOPA joined other aviation organizations in supporting the program’s continued funding in a letter to lawmakers urging that program funding be maintained at a level supporting existing contract towers and new facilities anticipated by the end of fiscal 2017.