NATCA Applauds FAA Decision to Build New TRACON in Palm Beach
Thursday, October 27, 2011

The FAA on Thursday announced that it plans to build a new TRACON facility at Palm Beach International Airport (PBI), news that was long awaited and warmly greeted by NATCA. President Paul Rinaldi issued the following press statement to express the union's support for the agency's decision.

“We applaud the FAA for making this decision. The airspace in and around Palm Beach will be safer as a result. The decision demonstrates how collaboration between NATCA and the FAA results in the good decisions that enhance the safety of our National Airspace System.

“Air traffic controllers take great pride in their work and care deeply about their airspace, the effectiveness of the equipment they use to safely guide aircraft and the facilities in which this critical work is done. This is why NATCA’s involvement with the NextGen Facilities Program is so important. This program will define and shape the buildings and airspace design of the system for years to come.

“NATCA continues to support new facility projects that make sense for the system and will enhance both the margin of safety and our ability to provide the best service to the aviation community. We're very pleased to have been involved in the process that chose the site for the Palm Beach TRACON.

“We are also grateful for the participation and leadership of Congressman Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.) in this process. The bipartisan South Florida Congressional delegation supporting this process also includes Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) as well as Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Congressmen Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Bill Posey (R-Fla.) and Tom Rooney (R-Fla.).

“Air traffic controllers oversee the safest and most reliable aviation system in the world. We want nothing more than to ensure traveler safety. That’s why we are pleased with the progress being made to safely modernize our system in South Florida and across the country.”

The following press release was issued by the office of Congressman Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.):

Hastings Lauds FAA Decision to Build TRACON at Palm Beach International Airport

(Washington, DC) Today, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-Miramar) made the following statement in response to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) announcement to build a new Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) facility at Palm Beach International Airport (PBIA) in West Palm Beach, Florida that will coincide with the new tower currently under construction.  TRACONs monitor and direct air traffic within 30 to 50 nautical miles of major airports from the time an aircraft’s landing gear lifts off the ground up to 23,000 feet.  The current Tower and TRACON were commissioned in 1969.   
“I am truly elated that the FAA has decided to build a TRACON at PBIA and keep those critical safety functions here in West Palm Beach.  TRACONs are vitally important to our nation’s air transportation network and a dedicated TRACON at PBIA will not only maintain but, in some cases, improve local and regional service as well as enhance system safety by offering redundant air traffic control service to South Florida.  The new TRACON at West Palm Beach can act as a backup system to the TRACON in Miami while Miami does the same for West Palm Beach.  
“I commend FAA Administrator Babbitt for his leadership in bringing this project one step closer to reality.  In addition, I would also like to thank my fellow colleagues from Florida who have been a part of this journey over more than five past years.  Without their interest and continuous support, this announcement may not have happened today.        
“However, I would be terribly remiss if I did not take this opportunity to also recognize our nation’s air traffic controllers and their President Paul Rinaldi.  These dedicated men and women work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to make sure that we reach our destinations as safely and quickly as possible.  They are the reason that we have the safest air traffic control system in the world, and that is why we must continue to support them.
“Additionally, I have also had the pleasure of getting to know many members of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) in and around my district in South Florida, and I can personally attest to the remarkable job they do.  Their dedication and professionalism are truly exceptional.  NATCA has been, and continues to be, an instrumental partner with me and the FAA in realizing a TRACON at PBIA.  
“As we move forward with modernizing our nation’s air traffic control system, we must ensure that air traffic controllers are best equipped to continue delivering the highest levels of service to those flying within our airspace.  Building and keeping a TRACON at PBIA is the right thing to do, and I stand ready to assist the FAA in making sure that the transition to the new tower takes place as smoothly and quickly as possible. This is indeed a great day for South Florida.”
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings serves as Senior Member of the House Rules Committee, Ranking Democratic Member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Democratic Chairman of the Florida Delegation.