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Aviation Groups Urge Continued Support Of FAA Contract Tower Program

top story photo Nine aviation associations are urging Congress to continue its support of the cost-effective, efficient, safety-enhancing federal program responsible for funding air traffic control towers at some 250 airports that might not have them otherwise.

In a letter sent to congressional leaders on the Senate and House appropriations committees, the associations asked lawmakers to support funding of $125.3 million for the FAA Contract Tower Program and $10 million for the continuation of the Contract Tower Cost-Sharing Program as part of the fiscal year 2011 Department of Transportation/Federal Aviation Administration spending bill.

The Contract Tower Program has enhanced the national airspace system by providing essential air traffic safety services since 1982. Currently, 245 airports in 46 states participate in the program.

Towers at these airports handle about 25 percent of all control tower aircraft operations in the U.S. The safety and efficiency record of the Contract Tower Program has been validated multiple times by the DOT Inspector General and FAA safety audits as well as by the National Transportation Safety Board.

"Full funding of the Contract Tower Program will permit continuation of this important FAA safety program and allow additional non-towered airports to receive the vital safety benefits of a control tower," the associations noted.

The Contract Tower Program is a proven public-private partnership that benefits the entire aviation industry. All federal contract air traffic controllers are FAA-certified and meet the identical training and operating standards as FAA-employed controllers. FAA controls and oversees all aspects of the Contract Tower Program, including operating procedures, staffing plans, certification and medical tests of contract controllers, security and facility evaluations.

The letter was signed by leaders from the American Association of Airport Executives, Air Carrier Association of America, Airports Council International-North America, Air Traffic Control Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Cargo Airline Association, National Air Transportation Association, National Association of State Aviation Officials, and the Regional Airline Association.

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