A story in the DAILY PAPER today by Joe Estrella says the Federal Aviation Administration is scurrying to get ahead of the politicos in their desire to move the local approach radar facility from Boise to Salt Lake City.
Idaho and Boise politicians cite “economic and safety concerns” in their opposition to the move. After the move we doubt Team Dave or the rest of the Idaho politicos will go on the record telling travelers, “Safety at Boise’s airport has been compromised and it is not as safe to fly here as it used to be!”
At this point it is a case of politicians attempting to cater to the locals (which isn’t ALL bad) by attempting to micromanage the FAA. Too bad they don’t like citizens to do the same when it comes to spending for trains and street cars (we still like the term “trolley).
The local approach radar known as TRACON (terminal radar approach control) would have been housed in the new control tower that pierces the horizon on the south side of the airfield. Radar operators work in a dark room looking at a screen. It doesn’t matter if they are in Boise, Salt Lake or Bangalore. This entire event is driven by politics, perceived savings (or not), JOBS, and the air traffic controller’s union.
The “safety concern” issue that controllers in Salt Lake are not familiar with Boise air space is simply bogus. Soon after a plane takes off from Boise, control is “handed off” to Salt Lake Center. When a plane flies from Boise to Salt Lake for instance, there isn’t a controller who is especially familiar with the air over Twin Falls and Burley directing the flight path. Air space is just that–space. It doesn’t matter where the radar operator sits.
For instance: when you call the Idaho State Police in places like Pocatello, Sandpoint, or Stanley the phone rings in MERIDIAN. When the fire alarm is pulled in a Boise school the alarm is transmitted via phone lines to SALT LAKE. The private alarm company then calls the Boise 911 dispatch center.
Even the nasty job of killing terrorists is done by drone aircraft which are often operated hundreds, if not thousands of miles away, by “pilots” sitting in windowless darkened rooms–just like the TRACON radar techs.
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