Representative G. K. Butterfield

Representing the 1st District of North Carolina

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Butterfield Urges Full Funding of FCT Program to Increase Air Safety

Jun 27, 2013
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC– Today, Congressman G. K. Butterfield (NC-01)sent a letter to the House Appropriations Committee leaders urging the panel to fully fund the Federal Contract Tower (FCT) program under the Fiscal Year 2014 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations bill.  The FCT program staffs air traffic control towers with contractors instead of Federal Aviation Administration employees, which help to manage air traffic control and increase air safety.  Butterfield additionally emphasized the program’s contribution to the local economies and national security.  

In his letter, Butterfield wrote, “FCTs are critical components for our regional economies and national security.  Eliminating the FCT program at 149 airports across the country would negatively impact commerce by reducing the flow of air traffic those airports could safely manage.  Additionally, many FCTs serve vital national security roles by serving as training facilities or alternate landing locations for military aircraft, National Aeronautics and Space Administration aircraft, and other essential aircraft.” 

In March, 149 contract control towers were scheduled to close due to funding cuts imposed by sequestration.  Congress passed legislation to enable the towers to remain open for the remainder of the fiscal year.  However, the stopgap measure is scheduled to expire on October 1, 2013.

Butterfield’s full letter follows.

 

 

June 27, 2013

 

 

 

The Honorable Harold Rogers

Chairman

House Committee on Appropriations

H-307, The Capitol

Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Nita M. Lowey

Ranking Member

House Committee on Appropriations

1016 Longworth HOB

Washington, DC 20515

 

The Honorable Tom Latham

Chairman

Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies

House Committee on Appropriations

2358-A Rayburn HOB

Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Ed Pastor

Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies

House Committee on Appropriations

1016 Longworth HOB

Washington, DC 20515

 

Dear Chairmen and Ranking Members:

 

I write to urge you to include full and robust funding for the Federal Contract Tower (FCT) program in the FY2014 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations bill.

 

Without adequate funding, many FCTs will be in danger of closure.  In fact, in March 2013, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) slated 149 contract control towers across the nation for closure beginning in April 2013.  It took an act of Congress, specifically the passage of H.R. 1765, the Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013, on May 1, 2013 and a bipartisan letter signed by 82 Members of Congress urging Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to use the authority prescribed in that law to keep the towers operational.  This fix and the funding for FCTs is set to expire at the end of this fiscal year, so I urge you to act now to support these important towers.  

 

The FCT program staffs air traffic control towers with contractors instead of FAA employees, which help to manage air traffic control and increase air safety.  If the FCT program is cancelled, the affected airports would remain functional and in operation despite the tower being unstaffed.  Should this occur, pilots would be forced to audibly communicate with towers that are offsite until they are within five miles of landing. Pilots would then switch to communications with on-the-ground employees who have visual sight of the runway.  

 

FCTs are critical components for our regional economies and national security.  Eliminating the FCT program at 149 airports across the country would negatively impact commerce by reducing the flow of air traffic those airports could safely manage.  Additionally, many FCTs serve vital national security roles by serving as training facilities or alternate landing locations for military aircraft, National Aeronautics and Space Administration aircraft, and other essential aircraft. 

 

We must remain committed to strengthening our economy and our nation’s security.  I urge you to fully fund FCTs to continue to improve our airports and ensure that the United States remains globally competitive.           

 

Thank you very much.

 

 

Very truly yours,

                                                                       

G. K. Butterfield         

Member of Congress       

 

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