NBAA Joins Call to Ensure Contract Tower Funding in FAA Appropriation Bill

Contact: Dan Hubbard, (202) 783-9360,

Washington, DC, March 17, 2015 – Reasserting the critical role provided by contract air traffic control towers at community airports across the country, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) today joined with other aviation groups seeking language to preserve funding for the facilities in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) FY 2016 appropriations bill.

In a March 17 letter to lawmakers, NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen and other signatories requested the addition of language under the FAA Operations section of the reauthorization measure ensuring that, “not less than $154,400,000 shall be for the fully funded and cost-share towers in the contract tower program.”

The letter was sent to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-5-KY), Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-17-NY), and also to the committee’s Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Subcommittee Chair Mario Diaz-Balart (R-25-FL), and Ranking Member David Price (D-4-NC). 

Also receiving the letter were Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS), Ranking Member Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and also to the committee’s Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee Chair Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-RI).

“The FAA Contract Tower Program has provided cost-effective and essential air traffic safety services since 1982,” the letter notes. “These 252 towers handle approximately 28 percent of all air traffic control tower (ATCT) aircraft operations in the U.S., but only account for about 14 percent of FAA’s overall budget allotted to ATCT tower operations.”

The signatories also noted that audits performed by the DOT inspector general and the FAA have repeatedly validated the safety and efficiency record of the FAA Contract Tower Program.

In 2013, the FAA threatened to close 149 federal contract towers in order to meet mandated budget-curtailment requirements under federal budget sequestration. NBAA was active in efforts to preserve funding for the contract facilities and in mitigating the potential impact of tower closures on regular business aviation operations.

“As we have long said, these tower carry a benefit when it comes to efficiency and cost-savings with the contract program,” Bolen said. “Equally important, we know that having the towers at the airports helps encourage the aviation traffic that promotes jobs, economic activity and local investment in communities across the U.S.”

Congressional action, prompted by significant concern raised by industry stakeholders and advocacy groups, ultimately compelled the Department of Transportation and FAA to keep the facilities open. Funding for the contract towers has since been maintained through the current fiscal year by a federal omnibus appropriations bill.

“Events of the past couple of years have made it abundantly clear that the FAA Contract Tower Program enjoys strong bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress,” the March 17 industry letter adds. “We urge you to dedicate full funding to the program for FY 2016 and extend the bill language that was adopted in the FY 2015 spending bill.”

In addition to Bolen, the letter was signed by J. Spencer Dickerson, executive director, U.S. Contract Tower Association; Faye Malarkey Black, interim president, Regional Airline Association; Thomas L. Hendricks, CEO and president, National Air Transportation Association; Greg Principato, president, National Association of State Aviation Officials; Kevin M. Burke, president and CEO, Airports Council International; Jennifer Imo, executive director, General Aviation Airport Council; Peter F. Dumont, president, Air Traffic Control Association and Stephen A. Alterman, president, Cargo Airline Association.

Review the full letter sent by aviation industry groups to congressional leaders. (PDF)

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Founded in 1947 and based in Washington, DC, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) is the leading organization for companies that rely on general aviation aircraft to help make their businesses more efficient, productive and successful. The Association represents more than 10,000 companies and provides more than 100 products and services to the business aviation community, including the NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition, the world’s largest civil aviation trade show. Learn more about NBAA at

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