02/26/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/26/2021 15:44
BISMARCK, N.D. - Senator John Hoeven this week joined Senators Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and others, including Senator Kevin Cramer, in reintroducing the Continuity for Operators with Necessary Training Required for ATC Contract Towers (CONTRACT) Act of 2021, legislation to support air traffic controllers and help with staffing shortages.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic controllers are one of several federal employee groups whose retirement is mandated at 56 years of age. Under current law, retired FAA controllers are unable to collect their pensions benefits if they choose to work as air traffic controllers at towers operated under the FAA's Contract Tower Program (FCT), a public-private partnership in which air traffic control towers are operated by private companies rather than by FAA employees. This bipartisan legislation would remove the disincentive for retired FAA air traffic controllers to work at federal contract towers. There are 256 air traffic control towers in the FCT program, including the air traffic control tower at Minot International Airport.
'Cost effective air traffic control facilities play a vital role in our national airspace and it's important that we don't face a staffing shortage,' said Hoeven. 'FAA air traffic controllers should have the option of continuing to work at Federal Contract Towers, without penalty, where they're serving their communities and providing safety for our national airspace.'