'Fiber Optic Move' Reportedly "Smooth And Safe"
After weeks of haggling,
congressional pressure and general angst from the National Air
Traffic Controllers Association, the radar at Palm Springs
International Airport was moved to the San Diego area
"It was a smooth and safe transfer," said Jim Corey, president
of the local NATCA branch.
The radar itself was not moved, according to KESQ-3. "It's a
fiber optics move. The radar is beamed to San Diego," Corey
As ANN reported, the agency
was set to move controllers operating the PSP Terminal Radar
Approach Control (TRACON) to a consolidated TRACON facility near
San Diego, but delayed the move earlier this month.
At issue was the safety of such a consolidation, which the FAA
says could save hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. The
agency maintained the consolidation would not affect safety, and
would be unnoticeable to pilots or airline passengers... but
opponents of the move said more research needed to be done.
NATCA, which is currently battling the FAA in a labor dispute,
argued the Southern California TRACON in Miramar wasn't staffed
well enough to take on the additional workload. Errors at that
facility have reportedly quadrupled during the past five years,
according to the Desert Sun.
"I'm still not happy with the staffing situation at the SoCal
(radar in Miramar), but there's a light at the end of the tunnel,"
said Ham Ghaffari, regional vice president for the National Air
Traffic Controllers Association.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, expressed concerns last year
about staffing at the facility.
"The Southern California TRACON is the busiest facility of its
kind in the world. It is critical that it be fully staffed to
ensure that the vast airspace over Southern California is safe,"
As ANN reported, Senator
Boxer attached a rider to the Senate Commerce Committee's draft FAA
Reauthorization Bill in May to delay consolidation of the Palm
Springs TRACON into the Southern California TRACON facility. Then,
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've been able to provide the same or better service in the
consolidated facilities," said Federal Aviation Administration
spokeswoman Laura Brown.
In addition to PSP, the FAA also plans to relocate TRACONs in
West Palm Beach, FL; Lincoln, NE; Reno, NV; and Boise, ID.
"It's kind of like cough syrup that you have to take, but it
doesn't taste good," Ghaffari said. "I'm not ecstatic about it, but
we will make the consolidation as safe as possible under the