When mandatory spending cuts hit all federal agencies on March 1, trying to tell fact from fiction (or rhetoric) inside "the Beltway" became increasingly difficult.
So it was with the FAA's announcement that it would cut off the funding for (and in effect, shutter) 149 air traffic control towers manned by a civilian workforce, aka "contract towers", starting on April 7.
There are 251 contract towers in total across the U.S. in the 30-year-old program. It is managed for the FAA by the American Association of Airport Executives and run by three different companies.
Given that these towers tend to be put in place at airports with lower traffic levels, is there really a safety impact of shutting them down?
AW&ST explored the issue in part by flying out to a couple of the airports where towers are on the chopping block, and talking to controllers that work there.