Nearly 60 percent of the air traffic control towers and other key aviation facilities run by the Federal Aviation Administration are more than 30 years old and plagued by leaks, mold and foggy windows that can make it difficult to see the aircraft, an audit has found.
The audit of 16 FAA facilities selected at random by the Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General found “obvious structural deficiencies and maintenance-related issues” that would keep the guys from This Old House busy for years. Beyond leaky ceilings and faulty climate-control systems, the most severe problem was condensation-clouded windows that made it difficult to see the airfield. The air traffic control tower at Edwards Andrews Air Force Base — the airport used by the president — was among those with foggy windows.
“It is important to note that the maintenance issues we observed did not impact the safe operations at the facilities we visited,” the report said. Still, some control towers were too short because the airports they serve have expanded since the towers were built.
Age is to blame for most of the problems, the audit states. The FAA has 420 staffed air traffic control centers, each with a useful life of 25 to 30 years. But 59 percent of the buildings are more than 30 years old, and the average age of the system’s control towers is 29.