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 strongly support the tower facilities and that the industry wants to work with the agency to keep the largest number possible in operation. JetOptions Private Jets is a member in good standing of the NBAA.

“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 cannot agree upon alternative solutions for reducing the nation’s deficit. The FAA’s deadline for industry input on its tower closures plan is today, and a final announcement of its decision regarding the closures is expected on 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 managing 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 uncertainties 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 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 archived letter to the FAA.

JetOptions is a member of NBAA

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