Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-CA) applauded the House Oversight and Reform Committee passage of the Continuity for Operators with Necessary Training Required for ATC Contract Towers (CONTRACT) Act, legislation which would eliminate financial disincentives that make it hard for federal contract towers to recruit and hire trained, well-qualified, retired FAA controllers. The bill (H.R.1283) was reported out of the full committee by voice vote. 

“Airports are a key driver of economic success across Ventura County. Keeping all of our air traffic control towers open and fully staffed is critical for safety and helps our airports serve businesses and aviation enthusiasts in our region,” said Congresswoman Julia Brownley. “This bill will ensure that FAA air traffic controllers, who choose to continue to work after the mandatory FAA retirement age of 56, can help us meet staffing needs at contract towers, like at Oxnard Airport, without losing their hard-earned retirement benefits. I want to thank Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney for her leadership and support on this important bill that will keep our airports open and our skies safe. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in the House and Senate to get the bill across the finish line.” 

There are currently 256 air traffic control facilities participating in the FAA’s Federal Contract Tower Program. However, these towers often find it difficult to hire trained and well-qualified controllers. FAA air traffic controllers are required by law to retire at 56 years of age, but under current law will lose a portion of their retirement benefits if they continue to work. The CONTRACT Act will eliminate this penalty for those who choose to work as controllers at federal contract towers. These experienced FAA employees should have the opportunity to use their skills at a federal contract tower without facing a financial penalty. Congress has provided a similar exemption to retired federal controllers who become air traffic control instructors at the FAA Academy.

This legislation is supported by the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), U.S. Contract Tower Association (USCTA), and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA).

Congressman Rodney Davis (R-IL) co-authored the House bill with Congresswoman Brownley, and the Senate version of the legislation (S. 419) has been spearheaded by Senator Inhofe (R-OK), Senator Murray (D-WA), and Senator Moran (R-KS).

Read the full text of the bill, here.