April 6, 2007
Under pressure from a formidable force - AOPA, local pilots, air traffic controllers, and Congress - the FAA has tabled indefinitely its plan to consolidate the Palm Springs, California, Tracon into the Southern California Tracon.
"This is good news. It underscores the need for the FAA to have a public process for tracon consolidations," said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs. "You can't operate behind closed doors when it comes to air traffic policy."
Because local pilots had raised concerns about safety issues and service impacts, AOPA called for a public meeting. The contentious midday meeting took place on May 10 with only two days' notice.
Congress has also taken an interest in tracon consolidations and wants to make sure the FAA follows an appropriate process. The Senate Commerce Committee passed legislation on May 16 with language that would create a public process for the realignment of FAA services and facilities, including tracons.
The FAA's motive for the consolidations is cost. The agency says in some cases it can provide more services to more locations by putting all the controllers behind radar screens in the same dark building.
Tracons provide radar separation of aircraft in busy terminal areas. General aviation pilots depend on tracons for VFR and IFR services.
For more information, see AOPA's updated air traffic services brief.
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