Congressman Brian Higgins released the following statement Friday:
"Today the Federal Aviation Administration announced tower closings at 149 airports across the United States. Thankfully the Niagara Falls International Airport, which was previously on the list, is not among them. While the tower has been spared from closure, our community is still suffering the impacts of sequestration, and threats to flight safety still exist. Earlier this week Ispoke on the Floor of the House of Representatives concerned that the sequester could further delay long overdue pilot training and aviation safety rules we've been working to put in place since the crash of Flight 3407.
"These drastic, automatic and untargeted cuts reach into critical areas including but not limited to our borders - the people who defend them and commerce and tourists that rely on border efficiency - as well as medical research, including the scientist and doctors working along the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and beyond as well as the patients who don't have the luxury of time when it comes to finding better treatments and cures.
"While I am thankful that towers in Western New York won't close, I am concerned of the impact this large number of closings may have on the general flying public. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) has previously raised thered flag on what they are calling "a nation-wide staffing crisis. According to the NATCA, "As of 2009, there were 11,219 controllers, 27 percent below staffing standards jointly authorized by the FAA and NATCA, and a 16-year low."
•Higgins previously urged sufficient air traffic control tower staffing after an incident at the Washington National Airport, in which the only air traffic controller on duty fell asleep:
•FAA news release announcing tower closings:http://www.faa.gov/news/press_releases/news_story.cfm?newsId=14414
•FAA listing confirming Niagara Falls tower remains open: