The FAA will no longer require 30 air traffic controllers...

The FAA will no longer require 30 air traffic controllers who work at its Westbury facility, known as TRACON, to transfer to Philadelphia. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The FAA has rescinded an order to transfer 30 air traffic controllers from its Westbury office to Philadelphia after protests by several Long Island families.

The Federal Aviation Administration announced plans last year to reassign about 100 square miles of airspace across the Northeast, which would have required the air traffic controllers in Westbury who handle Newark air traffic to relocate.

The Westbury facility employs 325 workers, including 176 air traffic controllers who navigate air traffic from Kennedy, LaGuardia, Newark Liberty, Teterboro, Long Island MacArthur in Islip, and Republic in East Farmingdale. The facility, known as TRACON, has operated since 1981.

Union leaders, controllers and their families rallied at the facility in February with U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who called on the FAA to cancel the transfer.

In a statement Thursday, FAA officials said they agreed with Schumer and rescinded the transfer letters.

Long Island, Schumer said, is “a mecca for air traffic monitoring that makes the most sense for safety.”

“We wanted the FAA to stand by their word here. No one leaves Long Island if they want to stay at TRACON — no one,” Schumer said in a statement Thursday. “Now that’s true, and it’s also the right thing to do.”

The FAA had initially planned to combine about 500 jobs at the New York Air Traffic Control with TRACON in Westbury center into one Integrated Control Facility, but the FAA agreed to rebuild and modernize the Westbury site after Schumer expressed concerns about air traffic control being relocated off Long Island.

FAA officials said the number of controllers monitoring airspace in New York was not changing, but the FAA had sought to realign its Newark airspace to meet demand in New York and reduce expected passenger delays.

The controller’s union said that in addition to not uprooting the lives of staff members, the air traffic controllers should work in the same office in order to coordinate and make split-second decisions about takeoffs and landings.

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