The Hernando County Airport has been accepted into the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Federal Contract Control Tower Program. In part, the agreement states that in consideration of the air traffic control service being provided to Hernando County Airport by the FAA, the airport will construct and equip the Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT) to state, local and FAA standards, maintain the tower and equipment, and provide all utilities and operational costs for the tower.
Acceptance into the Federal Contract Control Tower program is a significant step toward enhanced safety. The presence of a control tower should yield a number of benefits to the airport and community. While ensuring flight level compliance and air traffic separation will mitigate noise and attract more world class aviation businesses, the gain above all is safety. An increasing mix of private aircraft with corporate and military jet and helicopter traffic will be professionally controlled and directed.
As of January 1, 2010 a total of 245 airports across the country are participating in the program which is now in its 27th year. FAA contract towers receive continuous oversight and monitoring by the FAA and all contract controllers are certified by the agency. Members of Congress and DOT/FAA point to this program as an example of how FAA, in partnership with local governments and the private sector, can provide an important service and increased safety to aviation users at a substantially reduced cost. Approval of this agreement allows the FAA to plan, budget and request funding within their budget for the staffing of the ATCT. If the ATCT is not constructed there is no penalty to Hernando County Airport.
The estimated cost to construct and equip an ATCT range from $1.7 million to $3 million dollars depending upon location and height of the ATCT. Annual operating costs to Hernando County Airport are estimated to be $13,000 to $15,000. Including the 2009 non-budgeted revenue the Airport Enterprise Fund has in excess of $2 million in account number 4311-07411-5909917, reserves for capital projects. If costs exceed reserves and grant funds are not available at time of construction the airport would borrow funding to complete construction with prior Board approval.