March 22, 2010

Boise TRACON Radar Language Passed By Senate

Crapo, Risch enter statement concerning FAA Reauthorization vote

Washington, D.C. - Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch were victorious today in their efforts to have the Senate Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act prevent the FAA from moving the TRACON radar control system out of the Boise Airport until the new Air Traffic Control Modernization Board reviews and evaluates the proposal. Recently, the FAA sent an Article 46 notification of the FAA's intent to move the Boise TRACON to Salt Lake City. The Senators, citing safety and cost issues related to the move, placed a statement in the Senate Record prior to the Senate approving the FAA Reauthorization Bill on a 93 to 0 vote. The TRACON (Terminal Radar Approach Control) system assists pilots on approach to the Boise Airport.

Crapo and Risch joined in a colloquy with the Chairman and Ranking Member of the committee overseeing FAA operations concerning the Boise issue. The Idahoans and Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia) and Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas) discussed a section of the FAA bill that stops the Boise TRACON transfer pending additional actions by the agency board or affected employees.

"The bill will halt the consolidation of the Boise TRACON into the Salt Lake City TRACON until after the Board completes its recommendations for alignment," Crapo said in the statement, which also included a letter of support from the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCO), which is affiliated with the AFL-CIO.

"From where we stand, it is necessary to have a thorough review of the Boise consolidation and an independent determination of the cost effectiveness of transferring the Boise TRACON," Risch said as a part of the Record.

The letter from the National Air Traffic Controllers Association thanks Crapo and Risch for their leadership on the TRACON issue and notes that the FAA has failed to collaborate on the issue with local air traffic controllers. "We at NATCA will not move forward with negotiations with the FAA on the Boise TRACON transfer without full cooperation with the Idaho Congressional Delegation and other key stakeholders," wrote NATCA National Executive Vice President Patricia Gilbert and Boise NATCA Local President Mark Griffin.

In addition, the Idaho Delegation has also requested the U.S. Department of Transportation's Office of the Inspector General to initiate a study of the costs associated with the radar transfer. The Delegation, Boise Mayor David Bieter and others have opposed the move of the radar system for safety and cost reasons.

Crapo and Risch say the FAA has failed to show that the radar transfer would result in improved air traffic control services for Boise air traffic users. In fact, the evidence that the Idaho Delegation has seen continues to indicate that services would be diminished, safety and efficiency would suffer and significantly higher operating costs would be experienced.