CINCINNATI-In January, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association union asked a federal appeals court in Cincinnati to return the management of more than 100 control towers at small U.S. airports-sites in Michigan include those at Battle Creek, Detroit and Jackson-to the government.

Union lawyers claim the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) acted illegally in 1993 when it privatized approximately 130 towers. Attorney William Osborne argued that air traffic control is the responsibility of the government and that the resulting 1,500 job cuts -including 19 in Michigan-could compromise safety.

The FAA is arguing that private management is efficient and saves money.