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FAA’s Contract Tower Program Staffing Standards

Requested by the Senate Committee on Appropriations
Project ID: 
20A3004A000

Since 1998, our office has performed several audits evaluating the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Contract Tower Program, which currently consists of 256 air traffic towers in 46 States. Most recently, in 2020, we reported that between fiscal years 2015 and 2018, contract towers on average used fewer resources—or had lower controller staffing levels—per aircraft handled and had a lower number and rate of safety incidents than similar FAA towers.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations directed our office to examine FAA’s policies, standards, methods, and practices for establishing staffing levels at contract towers; assess the Contract Tower Program’s ability to adjust to significant air traffic growth and local requirements; and examine FAA’s relationship and coordination with its contractors. As such, our objective is to assess FAA’s approach for establishing and modifying air traffic controller staffing levels at contract towers.