This Monday, in anticipation of Thursday’s national budget proposal revealing budget cuts to transportation, a group of GA-related organizations including NATA, AOPA, and NBAA sent a joint letter to Congress looking to secure funding for the FAA Contract Tower Program. These groups have been keeping a close watch on funding for GA contract towers since the first attempt to reduce that particular part of program was made—and subsequently rejected—in 2013.
The Contract Tower Program contracts ATC services to the private sector at select VFR airports, more than half of which are primarily used for general aviation. The program’s stated goals are to enhance safety and improve VFR ATC services at significant cost savings to FAA. It has been in place for 35 years and, according to AOPA, has saved taxpayers $1.98 billion over the last 10 years.
253 airports in 46 states participate in the program. Both the letter and data from the U.S. Contract Tower Association state that those 253 airports handle approximately 28 percent of all ATC tower operations in the U.S. but only account for about 14 percent of FAA’s overall budget allotted to tower operations. The letter also mentions that 47 percent of all military operations at civilian airports in the U.S. occur at FAA contract towers. To be fully funded, the Contract Tower Program needs $159 million.
Learn more at the U.S. Contract Tower Association.