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NATCA Asks FAA: "What's Your Plan for Realigning Air Traffic Control Facilities?" - (1/26/2010)

CONTACTS:  Alex Caldwell, 202-997-7741; Doug Church, 301-346-8245

WASHINGTON – A special committee of National Air Traffic Controllers Association representatives met last week in an attempt to dissect and review the Federal Aviation Administration’s active, but as yet undisclosed, plan to split and/or close Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) facilities from their accompanying airport control towers in many locations around the country and move those critical aviation safety services into different facilities.  

The NATCA Realignment Committee was formed last fall after the FAA expressed a desire to work together with NATCA to develop a collaborative process for determining if or how air traffic control tower and radar facilities around the country could be changed to create a safer and more efficient air traffic control operation.

To date, however, the FAA has yet to meet with members of the NATCA Realignment Committee and also has not shared its plan for how the agency wants to reshape those facilities. So NATCA is moving forward in an earnest effort to explore the issue, collect information and chart a strategy that integrates all stakeholders in the process. NATCA would welcome the FAA in that endeavor but as of now the agency continues its efforts without any transparency.

The FAA currently is moving forward with plans to close facilities without giving NATCA, pilots, Congress and other stakeholders any information.

“Our request to the FAA has been and continues to be quite simple: Please provide us with a business plan with how the agency wants to realign its facilities and let’s sit down and talk about whether these moves will actually improve the safety and efficiency of the system,” NATCA President Paul Rinaldi said. Rinaldi, who as the local union representative at Washington-Dulles, was part of the NATCA team that worked with the FAA to successfully consolidate the radar control services from each of the major Washington-Baltimore-Richmond airports into a single new facility called the Potomac TRACON.

Continued Rinaldi: “We are not opposed to all realignments. All we have asked for is the FAA to establish a fair, inclusive and transparent process for how to approach this issue, as it did once before and as outlined in the FAA Reauthorization bills. But as we wait for final legislation to be passed, and in the absence of FAA willingness to work with us, controllers are moving forward ourselves to work with stakeholders and examine this issue, which is critically important to the safety and efficiency of the air traffic control system.”

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