SBD International Airport Eligible for the FAA Contract Tower Program

SBD International Airport’s activity level has qualified it to be considered for inclusion into the FAA Contract Tower (FCT) Program

San Bernardino, California, October 22, 2020 – The ascent in activity at SBD International Airport (SBD) has led to the announcement by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that the Airport’s activity level has qualified it to be considered for inclusion into the FAA Contract Tower (FCT) Program. Since the Airport’s control tower opened in November 2008, it has continuously operated as one of the few non-federal/non-contract towers in the United States, during a decade when the FCT Program was not open to new entrants.

After passage of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-254), which directed the FAA to take new applications for the FCT Program, SBD was first in the nation to submit an application to be scored under the new criteria.

The FAA’s initial scoring under the new criteria would have made the Airport ineligible for the FCT Program, but an appeal was filed in November 2019 to review the calculations based on two scoring issues that negatively influenced the initial outcome. After reviewing the appeal, the FAA made the determination that SBD was eligible for the FCT Program.

SBD International Airport credits the work of Congressman Pete Aguilar (D-Redlands) in the appeal process for its eligibility for the FCT Program.

“In the early stages of our appeal, Congressman Aguilar provided his strong support,” said SBD Chief Executive Officer Mike Burrows, adding “his interest in the Airport’s application early in the process helped expedite communication with the FAA, which provided a very favorable outcome.”

“We appreciate Congressman Aguilar’s recognition of SBD’s significant role in the economic fiber of the Inland Empire and his ongoing support of the Airport,” said SBD Director of Aviation Mark Gibbs. Gibbs added, “With the rapid growth in aviation activity and business partnerships in recent years, eligibility for the FCT Program further supports the Airport and its growing impact on the greater economic activities of our region. This decision puts the Airport in a strong position for future growth.”

“SBD International Airport is a key driver of the Inland Empire’s economic comeback, and I’ve been proud to support its growth over the years. With this new development, SBD can continue that sustainable growth, creating more good-paying jobs and helping to revitalize San Bernardino,” said Congressman Aguilar.

San Bernardino International Airport Authority President and Mayor of the City of Colton Frank Navarro sees this as a major step forward for the Airport: “The San Bernardino International Airport Authority (SBIAA) is appreciative of the work of Congressman Pete Aguilar on behalf of the Airport. As a commission, we take our obligations to support the Airport seriously and appreciate the financial burden the FAA’s actions help alleviate. We are appreciative of the great relationship we have with the FAA and look forward to growing our partnership.”

SBD International Airport anticipates its acceptance into the FCT Program in early 2021 after an Operational Readiness Inspection is completed and an Air Traffic Control Tower Operations Agreement is signed.

Background: The FCT Program was established in 1982 to allow the FAA to safely and cost effectively contract out the operations of certain towers. Contract towers are air traffic control towers that are staffed by employees of private companies rather than by FAA employees. The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (P.L.115-254) required the FAA to set new evaluation criteria for the FCT Program and allows qualified airports to be included into the FCT Program. Upon appeal, SBD International Airport scored 1.05, above the 1.0 required benefit-cost determination required to qualify for the FCT Program. SBD appealed the initial determination of a .95 benefit-cost ratio based on the “establishment” criteria and the characterization of the Airport’s air traffic. The adjustments provided the cumulative effect of a cost-benefit determination above the 1.0 required threshold.


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