Controllers say realignment OK if they are part of plan

WASHINGTON, D.C — Congress is taking a look at the FAA’s plans and efforts to consolidate air traffic control facilities and the controllers’ union says it supports the changes, but only if safety, efficiency, and service are improved.

Paul Rinaldi, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, told the House Aviation Subcommittee that facility realignments must be a part of a comprehensive plan and must be accomplished with inclusion of the agency’s frontline workforce.

The FAA is responsible for managing 402 air traffic facilities in the United States. According to the Office of Inspector General (OIG), the average facility has a useful life of approximately 25 to 30 years. The FAA says this year the average age of an en-route is 49 years. Average age of a TRACON is 28 years. To replace all the facilities will cost an estimated $10.6 billion, while the estimated annual cost to maintain 402 facilities is $99.3 million.

Modernizing the facilities is necessary for NextGen, the FAA says. Rinaldi told the subcommittee that while realignment might play a role in NextGen, realignment and upgrades are two separate issues.

“Automation systems can be housed in any type of building, whether they have been realigned or not,” he said.

Charles Spence is General Aviation News’ Washington, D.C., correspondent.


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