New BOI TRACON A Successful Conclusion To Eight-Year Effort
Friday, September 20, 2013
An eight-year effort by NATCA, its Boise (BOI) members and a broad coalition of supporters to uphold the best safety interests of the operation and keep the facility’s TRACON at the airport came to a successful conclusion last Sunday night, Sept. 15. That’s when the new BOI TRACON opened its doors and controllers began working traffic.
For BOI member Mark Griffin, who has served as facility representative for 16 years, the first shifts this week in the new facility have served as a bookend to the last eight years of Griffin’s term as FacRep, which ends on Oct. 1. During that time, the large-scale local and national legislative and safety effort resulted in a decision from the FAA in 2010 to abandon plans to move the TRACON and co-locate it at Salt Lake TRACON (S56).
“It was definitely fitting,” says Griffin of the new TRACON’s opening just days before the end of his term. “There’s a lot of satisfaction. People listened to us and the FAA made the right choice.”
The new TRACON, which joins a new tower already in place and opened at the same time, is equipped with
Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS), Fusion and Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B).
“We’re going to be able to see everything better, especially as the equipment continues to get upgraded,” Griffin said of the new facility. “There’s a safety and reliability factor in there.”
There are 34 controllers at BOI Tower and TRACON; 23 CPCs and 11 trainees. “The reaction has been positive (to the new TRACON),” Griffin said. “The operations areas are beautiful.”
The facility’s completion was a milestone that, for many years, seemed quite improbable.
In 2005, the FAA first began plans to co-locate the BOI TRACON at S56. At the time, before the current era of collaboration, the FAA did not include NATCA in the pre-decisional process. It was Griffin who started an effort to put together a fact-based and safety-oriented grassroots effort to ensure safety was promoted above all. A broad coalition of local and national elected leaders, the local community, the media and even the DOT Inspector General weighed in throughout the many years of the debate.
Finally, on June 8, 2010, then-DOT Secretary Ray LaHood announced that the TRACON would stay at BOI.
Said Idaho Sen. Jim Risch on that day: “Leaving the TRACON in Boise was the right decision for the FAA to make. From a cost and efficiency standpoint the facts are clear that leaving the radar operation in Boise was the only decision they could make.”
Added Boise Mayor David Bieter: “This decision is great news for Boise and for every traveler and business that depends on the Boise Airport. By keeping TRACON here, we will preserve high quality local jobs, ensure continued safety and convenience for travelers and protect the airport’s position as a major hub for aviation and commerce. I applaud the FAA for keeping this important asset in Boise.”
“I want to say thank you to everybody in NATCA,” Griffin said. “From leadership on down, the support that we got in this fight to get the TRACON to stay here and a new facility opened has been tremendous.”
Griffin said a formal ceremony and open house to mark the new TRACON’s opening is scheduled for Oct. 16. The new BOI FacRep then will be Eric Silva, who was on the NATCA BOI team that assisted in many aspects of getting the new facility open for business.
The radar room at BOI has updated workstations.