Smith Asks FAA to Explain Tower Closures

Mar 14, 2013 Issues: Budget, Transportation

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) is asking the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to explain their decision to close 189 contract control towers, including the tower at the Central Nebraska Regional Airport in Grand Island. 

In a letter to FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta, Smith along with 44 of his colleagues request a detailed assessment of the effects of the tower closures on our nation’s aviation infrastructure; a list of the alternatives considered to mitigate the sequester’s impact on the Contract Tower Program; and a list of all conventions, conferences, and trips organized by, paid for, or attended by FAA staff and their cost to taxpayers.

“I am very concerned about the impact of tower closures on our local economies, air safety, and aviation infrastructure,” said Smith.  “The FAA has serious questions it must answer about how it came to the decision to close 189 contract towers and what alternatives, if any, it considered.  The FAA’s budget has significantly increased in recent years, and it seems a bit disingenuous for the agency to now claim it cannot operate at 2008 funding levels without severe, arbitrary cuts to tower services.  

“I look forward to Administrator Huerta’s response and I am committed to working with the FAA to implement budget cuts in the least disruptive manner possible.”

Click here to view a PDF copy of the letter.

Background:

While domestic flights are down 27 percent from pre-9/11 levels, the FAA’s annual budget has increased 41 percent over the last 10 years.

The FAA must make $628 million in spending reductions to comply with the Budget Control Act of 2011.  This reduction would return FAA funding to the same level it had in fiscal year 2008.

Each year, the FAA spends approximately $500 million on consultants and $200 million on supplies and travel.