WASHINGTON, 25 March 2013. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), under the agency’s sequestration implementation plan, plans to close 149 federal contract towers beginning 7 April 2013.
Another 24 federal contract towers that had been previously proposed for closure will remain open, while 16 federal contract towers under the “cost share” program will stay open because Congressional statute sets aside funds every fiscal year for these towers. These cost-share program funds are subject to sequestration, but the required five percent cut will not result in tower closures, says a representative.
“We will work with the airports and the operators to ensure the procedures are in place to maintain the high level of safety at non-towered airports,” promises FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.
Earlier this month, FAA officials proposed closing 189 contract air traffic control towers to help meet the $637 million in cuts required under budget sequestration, while taking in the following national interest considerations:
- significant threats to national security as determined by the FAA in consultation with the Department of Defense or the Department of Homeland Security;
- significant, adverse economic impact that is beyond the impact on a local community;
- significant impact on multi-state transportation, communication or banking/financial networks; and
- the extent to which an airport currently served by a contract tower is a critical diversionary airport to a large hub.
DOT officials consulted with the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, and conducted operational assessments of each potential tower closure on the national air transportation system.
Some communities will elect to participate in FAA’s non-federal tower program and assume the cost of continued, on-site air traffic control services at their airport (see Advisory Circular AC 90-93A.) The FAA is committed to facilitating this transition.
The FAA will begin a four-week phased closure of the 149 federal contract towers beginning on April 7.
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