March 10, 2010

Crapo, Risch Amendment Would Stop TRACON Move

Senators challenge Boise air traffic changes by Federal Aviation Administration

Washington, D.C. - Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch have filed an amendment to stop a proposed move of TRACON radar personnel and facilities from the Boise Airport to Salt Lake City. The amendment comes as the Senate begins debate on H.R. 1586, related to the reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The amendment halts the consolidation of the Boise TRACON into the Salt Lake City TRACON until after the Air Traffic Control Modernization Oversight Board completes its recommendations for realignment.

Idaho's Congressional Delegation, Boise Mayor David Bieter and the Boise City Council have raised serious concerns with the FAA's proposed transfer of the Boise TRACON for several years. Despite the requests for transparency and detailed cost and safety data, they say the agency has failed to clearly demonstrate 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.

The Idaho Delegation requested the U.S. Department of Transportation's Office of the Inspector General to initiate a study of the costs associated with this radar transfer. In addition, the Delegation has asked the Air Traffic Safety Oversight Service (AOV) to determine whether FAA safety risk management procedures have been followed in the proposed move.

"We remain unconvinced that physically relocating the radar would be cost-effective and question the assumptions that have driven the FAA's proposal," Crapo said. "Because our concerns have not been adequately addressed, the consolidation should be halted until the new Air Traffic Control Modernization Oversight Board completes its recommendations for realignment."

Risch said, "It is unfortunate that we have to take these legislative steps to stop the FAA from moving the TRACON before we have the answers to our questions. Passage of this amendment will allow for a thorough review of the realignment and a determination of the cost effectiveness of transferring the Boise TRACON to Salt Lake City. We want those answers before any changes are made."

Consideration of the FAA Reauthorization could begin by next week.