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Region X Eastern Region President Dan Stefko - (10/5/2012)

Region X Eastern Region President Dan Stefko represented NATCA on the ATCA panel, “Facility Consolidation – Infrastructure Path to NextGen.” Also on the panel were representatives from the Department of Transportation (DOT), the FAA, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and NATS, the provider of air traffic navigation services to aircraft flying through the United Kingdom (UK) controlled airspace and several UK and international airports.

The panel discussed how even in an ideal budget environment, the cost of maintaining a legacy NAS could be crippling. With the development of performance-based technologies and budgets constricting, the panel also discussed the difficult decisions of what to cut or what facilities to consolidate while maintaining or increasing safety, capacity and flexibility.

Stefko said that everyone must keep in mind that no matter how much consolidation occurs, it doesn’t take away those structures that are left behind. Stefko also discussed how, especially with terminal facilities, consolidation doesn’t necessarily result in a reduction in the number of facilities in the NAS. It just means that there will be a relocation of services and, most likely, an increase in telecommunications costs. Stefko said the telecommunications costs are something NATCA has not previously seen the FAA take into account in its business cases when considering consolidations, although the FAA is working on starting to factor in those costs.

“NATCA’s been very clear on facility consolidation,” said Stefko. “Where it makes sense and where there is a good business case to support it, NATCA supports facility consolidations. But in order to make that evaluation we have to see that business case and not only do we have to see that business case, but the aviation industry has to see that business case as well.”

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