Larsen to FAA: Keep Air Traffic Control Tower at Paine Field Open to Protect National Interest

WASHINGTON—Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, today urged the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to remove the air traffic control tower at Paine Field from a list of possible tower closures. Larsen, the top Democrat on the House Aviation Subcommittee, wrote FAA Administrator Michael Huerta that the use of Paine Field by Boeing and Aviation Technical Services makes it a critical economic asset of national significance.

The text of Larsen’s letter to Huerta is below:

March 6, 2013

The Honorable Michael P. Huerta
Federal Aviation Administration
800 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20591

Dear Administrator Huerta:

I am concerned about the potential closure of the air traffic control tower at Paine Field in Everett, Washington. While I understand that the air traffic control tower at Paine Field does not fall into the first round of closures, notices from FAA have indicated that it could be slated to close this year.

Both in your February 27, 2013, testimony before the House Aviation Subcommittee and in your letter dated March 5, 2013, to airports participating in the FAA Contract Tower program, you indicated that your agency is working to “identify any locations where the national interest would be adversely affected by tower closure.” I believe that Paine Field fits this criteria.

The national aerospace economy is concentrated in the Northwest, and Paine Field plays an important role at the center of that economy. While Paine Field supports a vibrant General Aviation operation, it also serves as the platform for a huge portion of the region’s economy. As the home to the largest facility for The Boeing Company—the only air transport manufacturer in the United States and the nation’s largest exporter—Paine Field serves as an important national asset. Aviation Technical Services (ATS) is also located at Paine Field, and is the largest third-party aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhaul operation in North America. Much of their business with large aircraft necessitates a control tower in order to ensure the highest level of safety.

The production, transportation and repair of large airplanes need a fully operating air traffic control tower. Closure of the air traffic control tower at Paine Field would significantly limit Paine Field’s ability to support the cornerstone of the Pacific Northwest aviation economy and would hurt the national economy by impacting the operations of the country’s largest exporter.

I appreciate your continued leadership during difficult budget circumstances, and I look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure that our aviation system remains the safest and most efficient in the world.


Rick Larsen
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Aviation