Congressmen petition FAA for local radar

Toledo may lose control of operation

Five members of Ohio’s congressional delegation have joined local officials in urging the Federal Aviation Administration to “strongly consider” potential harm to Toledo’s Air National Guard base if the radar room at the Toledo Express Airport control tower were to be moved out of town.
The 180th’s rapid-response capability under its Aerospace Control Alert mission could be compromised if the Terminal Radar Approach Control functions now performed in Toledo are moved to a different control tower as part of FAA facilities consolidation, according to the joint letter the congressmen sent to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.
Co-signing the letter, dated Tuesday, were U.S. Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo), Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green), and Jim Jordan (R., Troy) and Ohio’s two senators, Republican Rob Portman and Democrat Sherrod Brown.
Should approach control be moved elsewhere, the congressmen wrote, Toledo air-traffic controllers experienced with the 180th’s mission would be mixed in with others “who presumably have little to no familiarity with mission.”
Assigning controllers to Toledo’s air space from a larger employee pool also would mean that each individual controller likely would have fewer opportunities to participate in the 180th’s twice-a-week practice alert scrambles, they wrote.
“Controller experience and familiarization with the processes and procedures for launching ACA F-16 aircraft is imperative to mission success,” the letter reads in part.
The congressmen also wrote that the opportunities for personnel at the 180th to meet and interact with Toledo Air Traffic Control staff “has contributed to the success of the ACA mission and a perfect safety record controlling and integrating fighters with other civilian traffic.”
Moving those controllers elsewhere “will obviously complicate this important face-to-face communication,” they wrote.
The congressional letter follows similar letters the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority and a coalition of airport users sent last month to the FAA concerning the possible TRACON relocation.
“We respectfully request that the FAA strongly consider keeping the current TRACON operations at Toledo Express Airport,” Steve Arnold, the port authority’s airport manager, wrote last month. “Please understand how important the ACA mission is to the security of our country, and how important preserving that mission and the entire operation of the 180th Fighter Wing is to the northwest Ohio community.”
In the month between the two letters, the air guard itself declared opposition to moving the radar room.
Such relocation “may negatively impact the rapid-response capability of the Aerospace Control Alert tasking,” said Staff Sgt. Amber Williams, a spokesman for the 180th. “The 180th Fighter Wing encourages the FAA to keep current TRACON operations at [Toledo Express] to minimize the impact of ACA operations and the protection of the homeland mission.”
Ryan Moore, a Toledo pilot and underwriter with U.S. Aircraft Insurance Group, had said during a discussion with the port authority’s airports committee last month that without the Guard base at Toledo Express, moving the radar room to Detroit would be an expected result of FAA consolidation.
An FAA spokesman in Chicago did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday. Mr. Moore had told the airport committee he expected the agency to issue a plan late this year for which congressional approval would then be needed. Any actual transfers would not occur before 2016, he said.
Contact David Patch at: dpatchm

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