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Mon, Feb 25, 2013

FAA May Not Move Abilene TRACON Functions To DFW

Agency Said To Be Re-Evaluating The Proposed Consolidation Of Services

The FAA may re-consider its plan to consolidate TRACON services in central Texas, which would merge the facility currently operating at Abilene Regional Airport with the one at Dallas/Fort Worth International.

Congressman Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) (pictured) requested a review of the proposed consolidation last week. "A couple years ago, the FAA decided to start the process of moving the TRACON operations from the Abilene Regional Airport to the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. It’s absolutely critical that such a move would actually save money and not threaten the safety of travelers and pilots in the 19th District," he wrote in a constituent newsletter.
 
"The FAA’s analysis of the costs and benefits of this decision proved faulty from the outset.  Last year, I requested an Inspector General report to investigate the process specifically related to Abilene, and they recently confirmed that the FAA’s cost assessments were flawed. I’m happy to report that our requests for transparency and thoroughness have paid off: officials from the FAA notified me last week that they would conduct a more methodical review of the proposal. I will continue to monitor this situation closely and look forward to reviewing the FAA’s findings.
 
"The FAA must be accountable to taxpayers and must work to keep the flying public safe, and I am committed to ensuring that it keeps that promise."

In a letter to Congressman Neugebauer, DOT IG Calvin Scovel (pictured) said that his office reviewed three business cases produced by FAA that evaluated the costs and potential savings associated with the realignment, including the underlying assumptions used in each of the business cases. "Our review found that none of FAA’s three business cases presented a comprehensive picture of the costs and potential benefits of the Agency’s Abilene TRACON realignment effort. Of the three, the most recent business case, created by an independent contractor in February 2011, provides the most detailed cost comparison given how it projected long-term air traffic controller labor costs, the largest cost driver of the realignment.

"However, none of the business cases provide enough information to determine whether the TRACON realignment would result in future cost savings or operational benefits. We also reported that the assumptions used in the three business cases regarding staffing levels, equipment, and other items only represent estimates of future costs, and will likely differ from what will actually be implemented, resulting in different costs and savings."

Congressman Neugebauer told television station KTXS that it now appears that the FAA will do a "more comprehensive cost-benefit analysis" at Abilene and other airports across the country, a process that Don Green, Abilene's Director of Aviation, told the station it could take up to three years to complete.

FMI: www.oig.dot.gov

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