Houston TRACON Busy With Moving Preparations This Week
Friday, September 20, 2013

This weekend is sure to be a busy one at Houston TRACON (I90). For the first time since the airport opened in 1969, air traffic controllers will move into a new, state of the art facility. I90 FacRep Dylan Hodgson said they took possession of the building on Monday, Sept. 16, and were busy moving materials over to the new facility the whole week.

“This is a project that has been a long time in the making,” he added.

Hodgson has personally been working on the new facility for over nine years and said there have been over nine changes to the structure and format of the building.  He credited NATCA legislative action on the local level with helping move the new facility plans and building along.

According to Hodgson, the official move will take place on the Saturday midnight shift this weekend.  At that time, two controllers and two supervisors will be controlling air traffic in the old facility, and two controllers and two supervisors will be in the new facility.

The work of switching over to the new facility will begin at approximately 9:00 p.m. local time and will continue through the night.  At that time, there shouldn’t be many aircraft flying through the airspace, hopefully making it a very smooth transition.

The team of controllers and technicians will change over one frequency at a time, until all 17 positions are moved over to the new facility.   Then, the radar and data will begin feeding to the new building and technicians around the state will finalize communications to the new facility.

“This is significantly better than what we have,” said Hodgson. “It will be enjoyable to be over there, I think.”

The new TRACON facility is only a couple miles away from the old one.  It is tucked into a 20-acre campus and has a new processor and an upgraded voice switch to improve radio and landline communication.

“The radar room is beautiful,” said Hodgson. “It’s a big improvement over the old one.”

The new radar facility will be fully operational in the early hours on Sunday morning.

The old TRACON was notorious for flooding, so the new facility was built above ground to try to prevent any more water damage.

In addition to the upgraded technology, I90 will also have an automated external defibrillator (AED) in the new building.  Almost every air traffic controller is certified to use the machine.  Recently, over 190 federal employees in the Houston area were trained to use the lifesaving device, according to Hodgson.

The new facility will also have a break room with a patio and a television where controllers can relax during their breaks.  Hodgson said he is working hard to ensure the television is set up with cable so controllers can still cheer on their favorite football teams Sunday.

The patio furniture is almost in place at the new I90 TRACON.