FAA's Contract Tower Program Staffing Standards

Published by the Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General on 2020-05-19.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)


Date:            May 19, 2020

Subject:         INFORMATION: Audit Announcement | FAA’s Contract Tower Program Staffing
                 Standards | Project No. 20A3004A000
                 Federal Aviation Administration

From:            Matthew E. Hampton
                 Assistant Inspector General for Aviation Audits

To:              Director, Audit and Evaluation, FAA

                 In 1982, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) began a pilot program to
                 contract for air traffic control services at five “level 1” (low-activity) control towers.
                 Currently, the FAA Contract Tower (FCT) Program consists of 256 air traffic
                 towers—operated by three contractors and the Air National Guard—in 46 States.

                 Our office has performed several audits evaluating the FCT Program since 1998.
                 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. 1

                 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 FCT Program’s ability to adjust to significant air traffic
                 growth and local requirements, and examine FAA’s relationship and coordination
                 with its contractors. 2 As such, our objective is to assess FAA’s approach for
                 establishing and modifying air traffic controller staffing levels at contract towers.

                 We plan to begin the audit next month and will contact your audit liaison to
                 schedule an entrance conference. We will conduct our work at FAA Headquarters,
                 FAA Regional Service Centers, and contract towers, and will meet with the three

1 Contract Towers Are More Cost Effective Than Comparable FAA Towers and Have Similar Safety Records (OIG Report
  Number AV2020028), April 28, 2020. OIG reports are available on our website: https://www.oig.dot.gov/.
2 S. Rep. No. 116-109, September 19, 2019. This report accompanied S. 2520–Transportation, Housing and Urban

  Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2020.
contractors that operate the towers. If you have any questions, please contact me
at (202) 366-0500 or Nelda Smith, Program Director, at (202) 366-2140.

cc:    DOT Audit Liaison, M-1
       FAA Audit Liaison, AAE-100