Opponents Question Safety Of Consolidated SoCal Facility
Terminal airspace controllers
working from a temporary facility at Palm Springs International
Airport in southern California will remain at that post for awhile
longer, the FAA said this week.
The agency had planned to move those controllers, current
operating the Palm Springs Terminal Radar Approach Control
(TRACON), to a consolidated TRACON facility near San Diego on
Tuesday. However, after a string of protests from the National Air
Traffic Controllers Association, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots
Association, and SoCal lawmakers, the FAA decided to hold off on
the move for now.
At issue is the safety of such a consolidation, which the FAA
says could save hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. The
agency maintains the consolidation would not affect safety, and
would be unnoticeable to pilots or airline passengers... but
opponents of the move say more research needs to be done.
"We decided to delay the consolidation while we talked through
some of the congressional delegation's concerns," FAA spokesman Ian
Gregor told the Southern California Press-Enterprise.
As ANN reported last month,
Senator Barbara Boxer attached a rider to the Senate Commerce
Committee's draft FAA Reauthorization Bill to delay consolidation
of the Palm Springs TRACON into the Southern California TRACON
facility. Later in the month, House Representatives Ted Poe,
(R-TX) and Bob Filner (D-CA) introduced a bipartisan
measure to place a moratorium on the consolidation of
all air traffic control facilities.
"We are guardedly optimistic the FAA will do the right thing,"
said Hamid Ghaffari, NATCA’s VP for the Western Pacific
Region. Ghaffari told ANN he plans to meet with FAA management next
week to discuss the best options for Palm Springs.
Those trying to delay the Palm Springs TRACON consolidation say
the current SoCal TRACON in Miramar is understaffed, and adding the
responsibilities now handled by Palm Springs would tax the facility
"This is good news," said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice
president of government affairs, about the delay. "It underscores
the need for the FAA to have a public process for TRACON
consolidations. You can't operate behind closed doors when it comes
to air traffic policy."