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Sample Contract Tower Op-Ed Piece


During the contract tower activities at the AAAE Annual Conference in Baltimore, it was decided that we should launch a proactive campaign to emphasize the positive features of the FAA Contract Tower Program. This campaign is to help balance any negative publicity being generated by certain labor organizations against contract towers.

As such, the U.S. Contract Tower Association (USCTA) Policy Board has drafted an op-ed article that is included in this e-mail below as a text version and also as a word file.

So that we can maintain the positive momentum for contract towers, please take time to get this op-ed article published in your local newspapers. Summer is traditionally a slow time for newspapers, so the timing is very good to submit this article and get it published.

Our goal is to get this article published in 100 newspaper across the country this summer. If you do get it published, please send Spencer Dickerson copies at the AAAE/USCTA office. We will periodically report to you the newspapers that publish this article.

The following are our suggestions for getting this article published:

    1. If you are already acquainted with the editor or a member of the editorial staff of the local newspaper, call this person first to say you have a timely piece written on congestion in the nationís skies and how it impacts the local community. Discuss any specific requirements the newspaper has and comply with them (e.g., sending the piece with a letter addressed to the editor; faxing the piece to the editorial page editor.)

    2. If you arenít acquainted with a staff member at the newspaper, call the editor, introduce yourself and explain what you have written. Tell the editor you will be faxing, e-mailing, mailing or hand delivering the piece and when youíll be sending it.

    3. Call to confirm the piece arrived. Remember, the newspaper isnít under any mandate to publish your work. Be persuasive, but maintain a light touch. Ask if there is any other information you can provide. Would they like a photo of the airport to go with the piece, or do they have one already on file?

    4. Send the article to arrive early in the weekÖstudies show that you are more likely to be given consideration if you arenít caught up in the end-of-the-week rush.

    5. Local newspapers are always looking for a local angle. Be positive. The article may not run immediately, but it likely will run. Check back in a couple of weeks if thereís been no action.

Thank you very much for your time and effort on this important campaign. If you have questions or need additional information, please contact me. Good luck!!!!!


FAAís Contract Tower Program Provides Safety Benefits For (Name of Community)

By (your name, title, airport name)

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is predicting that the number of passengers flying on commercial airlines in the U.S will grow from a record 664.5 million in 1999 to more than one billion in 2011. During the same period, the number of aircraft operations at towered airports is expected to increase from 68 million to 86 million. This forecast will require the nationís airspace system to perform at maximum efficiency to prevent hopeless gridlock in the skies and to maintain the safety level expected by the flying public.

Among the many initiatives that the FAA is employing to maximize U.S. air traffic control (ATC) resources to meet this challenge is the FAA Contract Tower Program, which began in 1982 with a handful of towers and now has grown to 194 facilities nationwide. The FAA initiated the program as a way to reopen low activity towers that were closed during the 1981 national air traffic controllersí strike. It is important to recognize that, without the contract tower program, many of these 189 facilities could be closed, resulting in diminished aviation safety at the same time aviation activity is rapidly increasing.

(name of local airport) is able to offer our community the added safety and efficiency benefits of an ATC facility by participating in this federally funded program. The U.S. Congress (,include the name of your local congressman/senator if they have supported the program,) have/has expressed bipartisan support for the program, endorsing it as a vital safety link in the nationís aviation system. Further, the National Transportation Safety Board has expressed support for FAA contract towers.

(Add brief description of your local airport ATC facility, hours of tower operation, description of economic and safety value to the community of a towered airport, and endorsement by local aviation users).

(name of local airport) is working with the U.S. Contract Tower Association (USCTA), an affiliate of the American Association of Airport Executives, to promote the common goals of contract tower airports. Through the USCTA, (name of local airport) is able to maintain close liaison with the FAA and ATC companies to advance the aviation safety needs of our community.

Air traffic controllers at FAA contract facilities are held to the same standards as FAA controllers and are FAA certified before they begin controlling air traffic. The vast majority of controllers at contract facilities are highly professional, former military or FAA controllers with an average of 18 years of experience. The ATC companies comply with the same safety regulations as those followed by FAA facilities, with continuous FAA oversight and inspections.

Comprehensive audits in 1998 and 2000 by the Department of Transportationís Inspector General found that the FAA Contract Tower Program provides comparable service to FAA-operated towers and is an important contributor to air traffic safety. The program also provides FAA with about $40 million in annual air traffic savings.

The FAA Contract Tower Program is widely recognized as one of the most successful aviation public-private partnerships in existence today. FAA Administrator Jane Garvey and agency officials are to be commended for their advocacy of this valuable program. (name of local airport), through its FAA contract tower, is proud of its role in the growth of American aviation and will continue to link (name of local community) to the rest of the nation by providing needed transportation services to move its people and goods safely and efficiently.

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