It didn’t take long for problems to arise from this week’s consolidation of the Palm Springs TRACON into a Southern California radar facility. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports a fiber-optic cable connecting the Palm Springs radar to Miramar went down Thursday afternoon, one day after the facilities were consolidated. The faulty link wiped out radar coverage for a portion of area airspace for about 90 minutes, during which time operations over the Coachella Valley were shifted to Palmdale. FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown maintained the glitch did not cause any lapses in safety, or lead to any problems or delays. Nevertheless, the problem will likely give critics of the consolidation new ammunition for their arguments. The agency was set to move controllers operating the PSP Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) to a consolidated SoCal TRACON facility near San Diego, but delayed the move earlier this month.
At issue was the safety of such a consolidation, which the FAA says could save hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. The agency maintained the consolidation would not affect safety, and would be unnoticeable to pilots or airline passengers… but opponents of the move said more research needed to be done.