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FAA Fails to Tell Controllers About Major New Air Routes - (10/27/2005)

CONTACT: Mike Blake (Boston Center), 603/943.6282; Jim Marinitti (Miami), 305/502.6686

WASHINGTON – The Federal Aviation Administration today is adding up to 15 new north-south air routes along the East Coast in an attempt to alleviate Florida air traffic congestion, but in a gaffe that points to the agency’s continued mismanagement of the system, the agency has not yet informed controllers at several of the air traffic control facilities tasked with implementing the new routes and directing the aircraft using them.

The FAA has left controllers at Boston Air Route Traffic Control Center, New York Center and Washington Center in the dark about the implementation of the Florida Airspace Optimization Project, which increases the routes aircraft can fly into and out of the busy South Florida airports.

Miami controllers, who will have the daunting task of merging all of the routes into the approach paths for the airports, are already on record as opposing the project, deeming it unwise and they have stated publicly that they refuse to place system users or the flying public at risk. They add that the complexity of the Miami airspace makes the plan unworkable and it is a major safety problem.

But farther north, the problem is more fundamental. The FAA has simply left controllers out of the loop as the project has roared toward completion. At Washington Center, for example, the FAA is creating a whole new sector to handle the routes. But controllers there have not been briefed.

“This is yet another casualty of the FAA’s foolish decision to cut off all collaboration with controllers,” said Jim Marinitti, Miami Tower and Terminal Radar Approach Control facility representative for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. “We were working with the agency on developing the Florida Airspace Optimization Project earlier this year and had meetings to work out the details of the plan. But then the FAA stopped working with us and we have been left out in the cold ever since on this and many other projects. The result is a major new initiative that starts out looking promising but FAA mismanagement turns it into yet another debacle.”

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