NBAA Letter to FAA Underscores Industry’s Pressing Tower-Closure Concerns

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

Washington, DC, March 13, 2013 – As the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prepares to finalize a plan for closing nearly 170 air traffic control towers and other facilities, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) President and CEO Ed Bolen yesterday wrote the FAA to outline the business aviation community’s significant concerns with the plan, and offer proposals for mitigating the situation.

In his letter, sent to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and Chief Operating Officer David Grizzle, Bolen noted that NBAA Members are strongly supportive of the tower facilities, and that the industry wants to work with the agency to keep the largest number possible in operation.

“We, of course, have significant concerns with the impact of sequestration actions at the FAA, and what effect those will have on the thousands of businesses in the U.S. that use aircraft in support of their core business, and the jobs, as well as the economies, of small, medium and large towns across the country…,” Bolen’s letter said.

The FAA’s tower-closure plan has been developed because the sequester – included in language enacted by Congress in 2011 – requires across-the-board budget cuts at federal agencies if Congress is unable to agree upon alternative solutions for reducing the nation’s deficit. The FAA’s deadline for industry input on its plan for the tower closures is today, and a final announcement of its decision regarding the closures is expected March 18.

In his March 12 letter to Huerta and Grizzle, Bolen outlined specific concerns about the FAA’s plan, including:

  • The added burden that tower closures would place on terminal radar approach control (TRACON) facilities. If the airport towers listed in the FAA’s plan are closed, traffic previously managed by controllers in those towers would need to be handled by the nearest TRACON, including management of traffic operating under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR). Most aircraft flown for business do so under IFR regulations.
  • The impact the FAA’s plan would have on facilities that provide aviation-support services, such as navigational aids (NAVAIDS), communication outlets and airport-lighting capabilities. For example, as the agency reduces its regular maintenance on those facilities, many could fail, and might not be restored. 
  • The potentially adverse economic impact on the communities surrounding airports with closed towers, as traffic at those airports experiences possible delays and declines. The plan could also potentially have a negative environmental impact, as aircraft, held by delays related to controller shortages, unnecessarily burn more fuel.
  • The potential impact of sequestration actions on the Pacific and trans-Pacific route structures often used by business aircraft operators, and the need for FAA to closely coordinate with the Department of Defense to minimize the impact of any restriction of DoD services to civil operators on those routes.

Upon sending his letter, Bolen stated: “The business aviation community appreciates the pressures the FAA is facing as a result of sequestration. That said, there are few services more important to all citizens, companies and communities than a robust aviation system, and control towers are a central part of such a system.

“As the FAA develops its plans for complying with the sequester, we want to ensure that our industry’s concerns about potential tower closures are heard, and that the agency remains focused on keeping the as many towers open as possible, so that we can continue to have the world’s largest, safest and most efficient aviation system.”

Review a copy of Bolen’s letter to the FAA in its entirety.

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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 9,000 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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