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Ayotte Continues Efforts to Protect Nashua Air Traffic Control Tower

Ayotte, Commerce Colleagues Urge Federal Officials to Avoid Closure by Finding Alternative Savings

Apr 12, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation, today continued her call for the FAA to keep open contract air traffic control towers - including the one at Nashua Airport - that were targeted for closure by the agency as a result of sequestration cuts.

In a bipartisan letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, Ayotte and fellow members of the House and Senate Commerce Committees underscored their opposition to the FAA's decision last month to target 149 federal contract air traffic control towers across the country. Last week, the FAA announced it would prevent imminent closure of control towers, including Nashua's, but only until June 15.

"We are profoundly disappointed with the decision of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to target 149 FAA contract control towers for closure on June 15," they wrote. "We ask that you identify lower priority spending elsewhere in the FAA's budget for reduction."

During recent debate on the catch all federal spending bill known as the "continuing resolution," Senator Ayotte made the case for Nashua Airport on the floor of the United States Senate. She pushed for an amendment that would help keep open air traffic control towers like the one at Nashua's Boire Field by allowing the FAA to use funds from other areas of its budget - without disrupting operations. Despite having strong support from members of both parties, the common sense measure was blocked from even receiving a vote.

Senator Ayotte will continue to press the issue with Administrator Huerta, who is scheduled to testify next Tuesday at a Commerce Committee hearing focused on aviation safety.

In 2012, the FAA designated the Nashua Airport as an asset of national importance due to its important role in the safe and efficient operations of the aviation system in New England and nationally - particularly as a regional relief destination for more congested facilities in the Northeast.

COMMERCE COMMITTEE MEMBERS' LETTER TO SECRETARY LAHOOD AND ADMINISTRATOR HUERTA:

Dear Secretary LaHood and Administrator Huerta:

We are profoundly disappointed with the decision of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to target 149 FAA contract control towers for closure on June 15. We ask that you identify lower priority spending elsewhere in the FAA's budget for reduction.

As you are well aware, contract towers have long played an integral role in the agency's efforts to manage the safety and efficiency of the nation's complex airspace. The decision to shutter contract towers on such a wide-scale basis is unprecedented.

Despite the serious concerns expressed by elected representatives in the House and Senate on a bipartisan basis, as well as by local officials; business leaders; airports; air traffic controllers; general aviation operators and businesses; state aviation officials; and other concerned citizens, the FAA has yet to address the impact this action may have on aviation system safety or efficiency. It is deeply troubling that the agency seems intent on proceeding with the closure of key air traffic control assets absent adequate safety data and study.

We recognize that the FAA faces difficult choices, but in this instance we remain opposed to the FAA's actions and will continue to urge action to keep contract towers open and operational.

Sincerely,


U.S. Senator John D. Rockefeller
Chairman, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

U.S. Senator John Thune
Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell
Chairman, Senate Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security

U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte
Ranking Member, Senate Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security

U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster
Chairman, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

U.S. Rep. Nick J. Rahall, II
Ranking Member, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo
Chairman, House Subcommittee on Aviation


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