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Sun, Dec 21, 2008

Report States FAA Facilities Continue To Fall Apart

Most Air Traffic Control Buildings Have Exceeded Their Planned Useful Life

A report requested by Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-MN and chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, was released Wednesday by the Transportation Department's Inspector General's office, painting a grim assessment of the physical condition of the nation's air traffic control facilities.

Common problems include control tower windows that fog up with condensation, ceilings that drip, and buildings that have far exceeded their planned useful life. "It is important to note that the maintenance issues we observed did not impact the safe operations at the facilities we visited," the report said.

Of the 420 Federal Aviation Administration air traffic control centers, 59 percent are over 30 years old, and 15 facilities are over 50 years old. The expected useful life of the buildings is a modest 25 to 30 years.

The report determined many of the problems stemmed from a previous FAA policy of requiring local offices to budget maintenance dollars. More often than not, maintenance spending was limited to the funds left over at year's end, the Associated Press reported.

In 2004, the FAA centralized maintenance planning, but currently has a $240 million backlog of needed projects, a figure expected to balloon to over $380 million by 2020.

The FAA agreed with the report's conclusions, adding that it is currently working to address many of the problems outlined therein.

National Air Traffic Controllers Association spokesman Doug Church said facility improvements would be welcomed. "This has been one of our top concerns for the last several years as we've seen our workplaces deteriorate in major cities and not-so-major cities around the country."

FMI: www.dot.gov, www.faa.gov, www.natca.org

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