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Safety and Cost Metrics of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Visual Flight Rule Towers

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The Inspector General testified about the safety and cost metrics of FAA’s Contract Tower Program and our recently issued report on that subject before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation. Since 1998, when we first began reviewing the Contract Tower Program, we have repeatedly found that contract towers provide cost-effective services comparable to the quality and safety of FAA-staffed towers. The Inspector General testified that in terms of safety of operations as measured by operational errors/deviations, both the contract towers and the FAA-staffed visual flight-rule (VFR) towers fell well below FAA’s national average. In terms of cost-effectiveness of operations, contract towers cost, on average, $917,163 less to operate annually per tower than comparable FAA-staffed VFR towers. FAA Administrator Marion Blakey also testified.