Small Airport Towers – Big Business Impact

May 14, 2013
Attached Photo: From left to right: Sen. Andrew Maynard (D-Stonington), U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, U.S. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, Sen. Toni Boucher (R-Wilton), Sen. Scott Frantz (R-Greenwich), and Sen. McLachlan (R-Danbury).

Attached Photo: From left to right: Sen. Andrew Maynard (D-Stonington), U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, U.S. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, Sen. Toni Boucher (R-Wilton), Sen. Scott Frantz (R-Greenwich), and Sen. McLachlan (R-Danbury).

Sen. Boucher: it’s in the state’s best interest to keep these towers open for the long haul.

Hartford, CT – Senator Toni Boucher (R-Wilton) ranking member of the state Transportation Committee joined a bipartisan group of federal and state officials to discuss steps being taken to secure funding for Connecticut’s small airport towers. The U.S. Department of Transportation on May 10 announced that the air traffic contract control towers set to close because of budget cuts will stay open, but only through September, 2013.

“There are several concerns being raised about what will happen to the towers once the federal fiscal year ends. Included in those concerns; air safety, a decrease in economic activity, and loss of jobs,” said Sen. Boucher.

The legislators, who were joined by aviation officials from across Connecticut, also spoke about their concerns with short-term fixes when it comes to contract air towers. Congress passed a bill last month giving FAA authority to shift $253 million from accounts with unspent funds to keep controllers on the job, at 149 small airports including six from Connecticut. Senator Boucher and other state legislators worry about what will happen in the future.

“We heard testimony from aviation officials that told us state owned general aviation airports contribute more than $195 million in economic impact to the State economy. They also support 1,314 on-airport jobs and 1,728 off-airport jobs. Connecticut has had one of the slowest recoveries from the great recession of any state in the country and with a state unemployment at 8% we can’t afford to lose any more jobs,” added Sen. Boucher.

Kevin Dillion from the Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) testified before the Transportation Committee regarding the aviation system’s efficiency and the economic benefits of the state’s six small towers including those at Tweed New Haven Airport, Danbury Municipal Airport, Waterbury-Oxford Airport, Groton-New London Airport, Hartford Brainard Airport and Bridgeport Sikorsky. Dillion said these functions include:

  • emergency diversionary airport support
  • emergency preparedness and response
  • law enforcement national security
  • disaster relief functions by government agencies
  • issuing safety and weather alerts
  • courier services
  • aiding flight certification
  • assisting medical transplant flights
  • direct transportation of people and freight
  • commercial applications such as agricultural spraying
  • aerial surveying
  • oil exploration
  • utilities and pipeline control inspection
  • aerial firefighting support
  • homeland security
  • issuing safety and weather alerts
  • monitoring nuclear facilities
  • noise control

Sen. Boucher believes if we close these towers it will also lead to delayed commercial air carrier flights, increased costs to the airlines serving those airports and to many companies and individuals across the country who rely on efficient and timely air service to conduct their business and to remain profitable.

“Many large corporations want to be near manned control towers. If we lose those manned towers they will decide to move to Westchester, or New York where the airports have a full tower staffs. It’s about risk management,” added Sen. Boucher.

Bipartisan support nationally was made possible by New Hampshire, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Kansas, Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) who joined with our Connecticut, Sen. Blumenthal (D-CT).

Senator Boucher is a leading advocate for transportation infrastructure improvements and a ranking senate member of The Transportation, Higher Education and Education committees. She also serves as a member of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee.

Boucher represents the 26th district towns of Wilton, Ridgefield, Weston, Bethel, Westport, New Canaan and Redding.