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Air Traffic Services Brief - Realignment of Terminal Radar Approach Control FacilitiesAir Traffic Services Brief - Realignment of Terminal Radar Approach Control Facilities

Air Traffic Services Brief: Realignment of Terminal Radar Approach Control Facilities

AOPA Wants Public Process on Tracon Realignments

The issue

AOPA has requested that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) hold public meetings and solicit pilot input on its realignment efforts for a handful of terminal radar approach control (Tracon) facilities in the next few years. AOPA believes that the FAA needs to hear directly from local pilots about what potential impact the realignments could have on operations. Further, the FAA should not undertake realignment if there are negative impacts on safety and operational efficiency. According to the FAA, realigning Tracons saves money and increases controller efficiency.

Planned Realignments

Lincoln, NE (LNK) into Omaha, NE (R90)
Pueblo, CO (PUB) into Denver, CO (DEN)
Rome, NY (T52) to Syracuse, NY (SYR)
Dayton, OH (DAY) to Columbus, OH (CMH)
Reno, NV (RNO) to Northern Cal (NCT)

Boise, ID (BOI) to Salt Lake City, UT (S56)
West Palm Beach, FL (PBI) to Miami, FL (MIA)
Abiline, TX (ABI) to Dallas Ft. Worth, TX (DFW)

Muskegon, IL (MKG), Lansing, MI (LAN), and Grand Rapids, MI (GRR) to Kalamazoo, MI (AZO)
Toledo, OH (TOL), Mansfield, OH (MFD), Youngstown, OH (YNG), Akron-Canton, OH (CAK) to Cleveland, OH (CLE)

Champaign, IL (CMI) to Chicago, IL (C90)

Previous Realignments

July 2007 - Palm Springs, CA (PSP) into Southern California (SCT)
April 2008 - Beaumont/Southeast, TX (BMT) into Houston, TX (IAH)

The importance to our members

Tracons are FAA facilities that house air traffic controllers who use radar displays and radios to guide aircraft approaching and departing airports generally within a 30- to 50-mile radius up to 10,000 feet, as well as aircraft that may be flying over that airspace. In other words, while Tracon controllers do not handle landings and takeoffs like airport tower controllers, they are responsible for the safe separation of aircraft flying in the busy areas surrounding airports.

There are currently 21 Tracons nationwide that provide radar separation of aircraft in busy terminal areas. GA pilots depend on this service for both instrument flight rules (IFR) and visual flight rules (VFR) services. Many general aviation operations transiting from the terminal to the enroute environment rely on the radar service provided by Tracon facilities, especially for IFR flights.

AOPA Policy

AOPA is working to ensure that the FAA adequately studies and addresses the potential impacts caused by Tracon realignments. These potential impacts include the FAA's ability to maintain robust radar services and the potential for inadequate staffing, which could result in controller saturation.  Further, the FAA should provide adequate notification and opportunity for input on any planned Tracon realignment.

Simply put, AOPA would oppose any FAA action that would cause negative impacts to existing services to pilots.

Updated Tuesday, May 4, 2010