03.19.19

SCHUMER DEMANDS FAA PUT LONG ISLAND’S AIR TRAFFIC TRACON FACILITY FIRST IN LINE FOR BILLIONS IN NEW FAA FUNDS JUST-PROPOSED IN TRUMP BUDGET; SENATOR SAYS SPECIFIC DOLLARS SHOULD GO TO LI FIRST & CEMENT LOCAL TRACON HUB FOR YEARS TO COME

Schumer Fought Hard To Keep NY TRACON And Its Hundreds Of Jobs On Long Island; Facility Oversees Nation’s Busiest Skies & Supports More Than 400 Good-Paying Jobs In Westbury

If Proposed Budget Flies, More Than $7 Billion Would Flow To Upgrade Sites Like LI’s—But If LI Is Not At Front Of That Line, TRACON Will Not Be At Cutting-Edge & Big Construction Projects Won’t Begin

Schumer: LI TRACON Must Be First In Line If These Fed Funds Are To Clear For Takeoff 

Just days after President Trump announced his 2020 proposed budget, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer honed in on $7.8 billion uncommitted dollars the administration would deliver to certain air traffic control operations across the country. Schumer, today, demanded that Long Island’s Terminal Radar Approach Control Facility (TRACON) N90 and its hundreds of good-paying jobs are first in line for the billions requested in new FAA funds. Schumer said that specific dollars that are part of this request must go to Long Island first for a slew of upgrades necessary to cement the Long Island facility for years to come and based the request on Long Island’s Westbury facility overseeing some of the busiest and most complex airspace in the nation.  

“If the president is going to request $7.8 billion in federal dollars from Congress to improve FAA TRACON facilities, we are here today to say: Long Island’s Westbury facility needs to be first in line if the request is to fly,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “Reason being, improving the nation’s TRACON facilities is important, but ensuring it’s done in a way that is the most efficient is critical. Putting Long Island first in the line for these dollars would better guarantee an efficient use of federal funds, because it is this facility and this site where some of the hardest and most tedious work is done and where federal dollars can be maximized down the TRACON pipeline.”  

Schumer explained that the proposed budget does not specify where these dollars would go, but that Long Island’s TRACON needs an infusion of federal dollars to remain fully operational, modern and protected from any future or possible cuts. Schumer reiterated the work it took to secure and keep this facility on the Island, and said that the FAA must detail where it intends to spend these requested dollars as congressional negotiations on the final budget begin. Schumer detailed about $80 million in upgrades, which include a new two-story building, new ATC equipment, the repurposing of old equipment and other critical advancements that will keep NY TRACON prospering.

According to the proposed Trump budget, “$7.8 billion is requested to provide safe, secure, and cost-effective air traffic services to commercial and private aviation. This includes an increase of $5.1 million to safeguard against internal and external cyber threats.” Schumer said that within this line item request lies the dollars Long Island’s Westbury facility can use to make upgrades.

Schumer said the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control (NY TRACON) upgrades include the new two-story building, which would be 20,000 square feet; new ATC equipment; the repurposing of old equipment and other critical advancements required to adapt the facility to present needs, which include cyber threat prevention. NY TRACON has also proposed obtaining new ‘leapfrog’ (computer) equipment within the next 5 years, which would be installed in a new equipment room. NY TRACON would also use the federal funds to test and checkout all systems with live data, conduct ATC training, and conduct Go-No-GO (take-off safety) reviews. The facility would also remove old TRACON equipment that has become outdated. An infusion of federal funds to complete these upgrades would help Long Island’s facility remain fully operational, modern and protected from any future cuts, Schumer pointed out.

“These are the kinds of projects that facilities like Westbury need to remain fully functioning and staffed. These are the exact kinds of federal dollars that accomplish the task, while at the same time creating construction jobs that give the local economy an added boost,” Schumer added.

“As technology is constantly changing and New York has the busiest and most complex airport system in the nation, vital upgrades are needed for the FAA TRACON facility in Westbury to remain fully functioning and staffed,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. “The future of the facility and its hundreds of employees depends on where it stands in the line for the billions requested in new FAA funds.”

“While pilots and flight attendants are key to safe air travel, air traffic controllers, though less visible, are just as essential,” said Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen. “We need to protect the hundreds of good paying local jobs that this facility provides, just as those who work here protect thousands of lives every day, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”

“This current facility is forty years old and is long overdue in being replaced,” said Kevin Maney, President of the local National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NACTA).  “Funding this proposed sustainment project would help us bridge the gap between the antiquated and outdated facility behind us with a temporary structure that would allow us time to secure the funding for a complete NY TRACON replacement and I want to thank Senator Schumer for always supporting NY TRACON and the controllers who work here.”

“NY TRACON has the greatest technicians and controllers in the world but they are working with outdated equipment,” said Randy Brown, Local Representative for the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS) AFL-CIO.  “In order for us to properly serve the busiest airspace in the world, the New York Metro area, our air traffic professionals need a state of the art facility to meet the current and emerging demands of the 21st century with the most up to date equipment.  I want to thank Senator Schumer for supporting this sustainment project so that operators no longer have to work in an outdated facility.”

Schumer reiterated the work it took to keep the NY TRACON facility on Long Island, saving hundreds of good-paying Long Island aviation jobs. The FAA was initially interested in combining the New York Air Traffic Control center in Ronkonkoma (about 500 jobs) and the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control facility in Westbury (about 400 jobs) into one Integrated Control Facility (ICF) site for the New York metropolitan region. Schumer relentlessly advocated to multiple DOT secretaries, the White House and FAA leaders to keep the air traffic control centers on Long Island after the serious possibility that the new Integrated Control Facility would be moved off the Island. As a result of Schumer’s fierce advocacy, the FAA ultimately decided to rebuild and modernize the TRACON site on Long Island. Schumer, today, said now more upgrades are needed to keep pace with technology and industry needs.

According to Newsday and Schumer, NY TRACON in Westbury, is one of the busiest air traffic control centers in the nation. It is responsible for guiding and monitoring air traffic coming in and out of Kennedy Airport, LaGuardia, Newark Liberty, Teterboro and dozens of other regional airports, including Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma and Republic Airport in Farmingdale.

Schumer was joined by local elected officials and representatives from Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS), AFL-CIO and National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) as he made today’s push.

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