Taking a Hard Look at What Works
We talk about collaboration often because it’s important to everything we do. A great example is last week’s cutover of air traffic services from Cape (K90) Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) operations to Boston TRACON (A90).
This move was part of an effort that dates back to 2012, when Congress passed our reauthorization bill and asked us to realign and consolidate airspace, facilities and services. This prompted us to sit down with our labor partners, including the National Air Traffic Controllers Association and the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, and we had some tough talks about how we could reduce the footprint of our physical infrastructure.
A lot of hard work followed, as we examined facilities and work flow, hashed out details between our air traffic experts and our technical operations teams, and performed cost-benefit assessments. All of this helped us make data-driven decisions. We also received input from local leaders and other stakeholders.
What resulted was a multi-year plan that we think will make our national airspace system more efficient and save money by consolidating the work of a few TRACONS into other facilities that need less maintenance and can handle a more robust traffic mix. For example, one of the ways we save money is not having to install new terminal automation systems in as many facilities.
Travelers won’t notice a thing. With the Cape to Boston move, none of our military, commercial or private users see any change to their service in the Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard airspace. The consolidation went off without a hitch due to great engineering and technical work as well as employee training.
We have additional consolidations in the works. Next on tap is the realignment of Erie (ERI) TRACON operations to the Buffalo (BUF) tower and TRACON, and later, we expect to have some changes in Ohio and Michigan.
These moves are often going to be from very low volume facilities to those with more traffic and more opportunities for growth for employees. Our agreements with labor were very helpful in making this a smooth transition. Air traffic controllers working in the radar rooms are given the option to stay and work at the local tower when there is one, or they can move to the other facility.
I want to thank everyone who worked on the consolidation, including the 25 air traffic controllers and managers who realigned to A90, and our management and labor partners in Tech Ops and Air Traffic who are working on additional plans.
This is a great example of how we can make tough decisions about what we really need and when change is necessary, and shows us that collaboration can lead to efficiencies in our airspace.