NBAA, Other Groups Call for Full Funding of Contract Towers

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

Washington, DC, March 16, 2016 –   Reasserting the critical role provided by contract air traffic control towers at community airports across the United States, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) joined with other aviation groups seeking language to preserve funding for the facilities in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) FY 2017 appropriations bill.

In a March 15 letter to lawmakers, NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen and other aviation industry leaders requested the inclusion of language under the “FAA Operations” section of the reauthorization measure, suggesting that “not less than $159,000,000 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) and Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-17-NY), as well as to the committee’s Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee Chairman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-25-FL) and that subcommittee’s Ranking Member David Price (D-4-NC).

Also receiving the letter were Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Ranking Member Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and the committee’s Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee Chairman 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 for over three decades,” the letter notes. “Currently, 253 smaller airports in 46 states participate in the program. Together, these 253 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 letter also noted that audits performed by the Department of Transportation inspector general and the FAA have repeatedly validated the safety and efficiency of the FAA contract tower program.

In 2013, the FAA threatened to close 149 federal contract towers in order to meet budget constraints mandated by 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-aircraft operations.

Ultimately, Congress, prompted by significant concerns raised by NBAA and other industry stakeholders and advocacy groups, compelled the FAA to keep the contract towers open. Funding for the towers has since been maintained through the current fiscal year by a federal omnibus appropriations bill.

“Events of the past several years have made it abundantly clear that the FAA contract tower program enjoys strong bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress,” the letter concluded. “We urge you to dedicate full funding to the program for FY 2017 and extend the bill language that was adopted in the FY 2016 spending bill.”

In addition to Bolen, the letter was signed by J. Spencer Dickerson, executive director of the U.S. Contract Tower Association; Faye Malarkey Black, president of the Regional Airline Association; Mark Baker, president and CEO of the  Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association; Thomas L. Hendricks, president and CEO of the National Air Transportation Association; Kevin M. Burke, president and CEO of Airports Council International; Greg Principato, president of the National Association of State Aviation Officials; Peter F. Dumont, president of the Air Traffic Control Association; Edward P. Faberman, executive director of the Air Carrier Association of America and Stephen A. Alterman, president of the 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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