FAA mulls 46 sites in NY for air traffic control center

The newer control tower at Laguardia Airport belies

The newer control tower at Laguardia Airport belies the old buildings, right, that reflect another era in aviation history. (May 15, 2012) (Credit: Craig Ruttle)

The Federal Aviation Administration is mulling 46 sites in New York for a new air traffic control center, putting to rest fears the possibility that nearly 1,000 Long Island-based aviation jobs would leave the state, Sen. Charles Schumer said Thursday.

Schumer (D-N.Y.) spoke about the FAA's plans to build a new Integrated Control Facility four days after members of Pennsylvania's congressional delegation asked the FAA to lift a requirement that the site be in New York and consider locations in their state.

After a phone conversation with Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Schumer said he was confident the building will go up in New York and he will back the Island as a location.


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"He gave us some good news that all 46 sites that they received are in New York," Schumer said of his phone call with LaHood. "It means that there's less competition for Long Island and we won't get any pressure from out-of-state delegations."

Schumer said that "Pennsylvania made a big push" to get the facility in the eastern part of the state, but that LaHood had given assurances he would help "get it where I wanted it."

The Pennsylvania delegation had argued in a letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta that the requirement the new building be in New York State was "arbitrary" and that their state's cost of living would be less expensive than New York's.

FAA officials said federal law prevented them from releasing details about the proposal, including potential locations for the site. Schumer said that there were "multiple" submissions for sites on Long Island. "It will give them multiple options on Long Island," Schumer said.

The FAA made public a Request for Information Dec. 20 that specifies the site be "34 to 49 acres" and within 150 miles of New York City.

"I'm telling the FAA it has to be on Long Island," Schumer said. "The workforce is second to none and the workers are already here."

An FAA spokeswoman confirmed that more than 30 proposals were submitted.

About 950 aviation workers, including more than 500 air traffic controllers, use radar-based technology to guide air traffic around New York at two Long Island facilities, TRACON in Westbury and New York Center in Ronkonkoma. The new facility will replace the two aging air traffic control centers on Long Island.

The FAA plans to combine the two workforces in a new building that will include updated satellite navigation technology. The price tag to find land and design the new building is $95 million, according to the FAA.

A decision on where to build it is expected in May.

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