Two upstate NY airports lose air traffic controllers

Two upstate NY airports lose air traffic controllers

Budget Battle Airports

An American Eagle flight waits for release from the air traffic control tower at Central Illinois Regional Airport in Bloomington, Ill. A cost-saving measure to realign air traffic control operations will result in job losses at some smaller airports, including Elmira and Binghamton in upstate New York.

Efforts to avert the transfer of Federal Aviation tower personnel from Elmira and Binghamton in a realignment plan failed.

A contingent of highly compensated air traffic controllers will relocate from the two Southern Tier airports to the Scranton as part of an FAA cost-saving plan to consolidate some air traffic operations from the nations smaller airports.

The FAA confirmed this week about a dozen controller jobs at the two New York airports will be transferred, with the personnel taking up residence at the FAA operation at the Scranton-Willkes Barre airport.

"The Federal Aviation Administration plans to consolidate Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) operations at the Elmira Corning Regional Airport and the Greater Binghamton Airport in New York into the Wilkes Barre-Scranton TRACON," said an agency representative  "The agency expects to begin initial planning activities later this year."

Nationally, the median wage for air traffic controllers was $125,000, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

U.S. Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, D-N.Y., was attempting to block the realignment and prevent the transfer, but those efforts have fallen short.

The FAA was ordered to review operations in 2012 "to reduce capital, operating, maintenance, and administrative costs, where such cost reductions can be implemented without adversely affecting safety."

Consolidation of air traffic control operations was a critical part of the plan.

Controllers transferred were part of the FAA's TRACON (Terminal Radar Approach Control) system, which uses radar displays and radios to guide aircraft approaching and departing airports generally within a 30- to 50-mile radius up to 10,000 feet, as well as aircraft that may be flying over that airspace. Once an aircraft that is landing is within five miles of an airport and below 2,500 feet, TRACON controllers hand the aircraft off to air traffic controllers in the airport tower.

The Scranton-Wilkes personnel control approaches to both the Elmira and Binghamton airports. Ithaca approaches were previously handled in Elmira, and will also be controlled at the airport that spans the border between Luzerne County and Lackawanna County.


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