SoCal Facilities Would Remain Separate Until New Board Reviews Plan. On Thursday, US Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) announced the Senate Commerce Committee’s bipartisan draft FAA Reauthorization Bill includes her request to delay consolidation of the Palm Springs TRACON into the Southern California TRACON. Representatives for the senator say the provision stops the consolidation until both the FAA and the newly proposed Air Traffic Control Modernization Oversight Board have thoroughly reviewed the FAA’s recommendation to consolidate.
The SoCal TRACON is reported to be among the busiest in the world, with 2.2 million operations annually. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association maintains the facility is already dangerously short-staffed and operational errors are rising.
Boxer says she agrees with the concerns of NATCA and the AOPA, that the SoCal TRACON would not have adequate staffing and training to safely absorb the additional 220,000 operations from Palm Springs — which would require controllers to juggle complex airspace, surrounded by mountainous terrain.
“This should send a signal to the FAA to immediately delay a potentially dangerous situation,” Boxer adds. “Today’s action by the Commerce Committee means this consolidation should stop in its tracks. To that end, I have today sent a letter to FAA Administrator Blakey alerting her to this provision and telling her that if FAA moves forward with this consolidation, it will be viewed as bad faith by all of the parties involved.”