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Editorial: LI wins with FAA decision on air traffic center

This file photo shows an Air Traffic Control

This file photo shows an Air Traffic Control Tower at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Islip on May 18, 2011. Credit: Ed Betz

Gaining modern, satellite-based air traffic control technology for the region won't mean losing hundreds of high-paying jobs on Long Island. That's great news.

For years the Federal Aviation Administration has planned to consolidate operations now located at Terminal Radar Approach Control in Westbury and the New York Center in Ronkonkoma. That left local officials sweating that this could mean moving them to a new integrated facility somewhere else in the region, like New Jersey. Now the FAA has decided to keep them on Long Island. It will rebuild and modernize TRACON with the option of expanding that facility to accommodate the Ronkonkoma center.

The radar-based systems now in use at those locations are past their planned, useful life. The sooner they're replaced with the long-awaited NextGen control system the better. The FAA is betting on the new technology to reduce frequent flight delays at New York City airports that have made them a bottleneck responsible for delays across the nation.

The new integrated facility could have been built anywhere within a 150-radius of New York City. But Sen. Charles Schumer, Rep. Tim Bishop and the rest of the local delegation made the case that with its highly skilled and experienced workforce already ensconced here on Long Island, it made sense to keep the 950 jobs here, too.