Congressional Involvement in FAA ATC relocation decisions should be limited to defining the “why”, not asking the “where”

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Rationalization of the federal government, whether it is military bases or ATC facilities, must be driven by objective financial rules applied to all facilities. Congressional influence should not be invoked to override the standards for evaluation; if the criteria do not reflect all of the relevant factors, then they should be reconsidered.

Congress, based on a bipartisan voice of fiscal conservatives, has urged that all federal organizations carefully examine which functions and/or facilities should be appropriately closed. The FAA, like other organizations, establishes a set of hard parameters which should differentiate between those towers, TRACONs and centers which should be retained and those which should be closed. The cost benefit analysis, which quantifies all of the elements on a single scale, has been honed in the “mergers” of GADOs and ACDOs into FSDOs, the consolidation of FSSs for automation, closure of regional offices, most recently removing Federal Contract Towers from NAS and a reorganization of the ATC facilities.

That history of FAA realignment of its locations is matched by many tales of “help” from Congress on such decisions. In many, not all, instances, sound basis for the agency’s decisions was able to support the preferred result.

Five Ohio U.S. Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo), Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green), and Jim Jordan (R., Troy) and their two senators, Republican Rob Portman and Democrat Sherrod Brown wrote to Administrator Huerta urging that the FAA not to move the TRACON from the Toledo Express Airport to another location. The primary argument was that controllers at another site could “presumably have little to no familiarity with mission “of the Ohio Air National Guard 180th Fighter Wing (above picture). That insufficient comprehension of the F-16 requirements would degrade the wing’s readiness.

The issue should not be framed in terms of a specific facility. The measure of merit should be expressed in precise criteria which assess both the deterioration of safety caused by movement of a TRACON to another site and the impact on the military mission readiness by such an action. The FAA must consider options all around the country and in so doing, the value of Airport A will be compared to the closure at Airport B on a level playing field.

If the Ohio delegation is confident that the merits of their request are objectively sound, they should ask the FAA to incorporate such criteria into its decision matrix. These are not just local issues, but impact a national system. The analysis must be objective and not myopic.

ARTICLE: Congressmen petition FAA for local radar

Toledo may lose control of operation

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