The FAA this year is consolidating several tracons throughout the country. Have you heard? Probably not.
The FAA is proceeding quietly and not making the information widely available to the public. The agency isn't soliciting information from airspace users either.
Here's a recent example: After hearing from concerned members in Palm Springs, California, AOPA asked the FAA to have a public meeting before the Palm Springs Tracon is consolidated into the Southern California Tracon next month. More than 50 people attended the May 10 meeting.
"The point of the public meeting was to solicit input from pilots, but the FAA officials didn't give much notice—only two days—for a midday meeting," said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs. "The FAA must do a better job of giving pilots the opportunity to hear about consolidations and provide comments."
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 air traffic services brief.
May 17, 2007