United States Senator Charles E. Schumer, Congressmen Tim Bishop and Steve Israel and Islip Town Supervisor Tom Croci hosted FAA Acting Administrator Michael Huerta today at MacArthur Airport and gave the administrator a personal tour of one potential site on Long Island for the FAA to consider for the construction of a new $220 million Integrated Control Facility (ICF). Last week, in a meeting with Senator Schumer, Acting Administrator Huerta committed that the new facility will remain in New York and accepted an invitation from the Senator to visit Long Island to see firsthand, one of the options for the ICF. There are currently two control facilities on Long Island, in Westbury and Ronkonkoma. The new ICF will consolidate these two facilities into one site for the northeast region. Schumer, Bishop, Israel and Croci, on both a tour of the airport and in a meeting with Huerta, made the case that Long Island, with the two current facilities and existing workforce, should be the final home of the Integrated Control Facility.
"Seeing is believing, and it's my hope that once Acting Administrator Huerta sees what Long Island has to offer, the FAA will understand why it needs to build this new state of the art facility here," said Schumer. "MacArthur Airport is one of several sites on Long Island that can and should call the Integrated Control Facility home and in doing so, we can keep Long Island jobs on Long Island, where they belong. Our message is clear: the FAA needs to make Long Island the final destination for this new state-of-the-art air traffic control center."
"Welcoming FAA Administrator Huerta to our area will bolster the case that Long Island is the most cost-effective and appropriate location for the FAA's new integrated control facility," said Congressman Tim Bishop, who is a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which has jurisdiction over FAA. "I will continue to assert my leadership in this concerted, bipartisan effort to create over 1,000 construction jobs and retain over 850 highly-skilled FAA jobs here on Long Island."
"We are here today to send a message to the FAA that it's common sense for the new integrated Air Traffic Control system for New York's Airports to be on Long Island. Not only will the new facility create more than 1,000 construction jobs and retain more than 850 highly-skilled FAA jobs in our region, but it will also reinforce critical transportation infrastructure in New York. We shouldn't move the facility to a location where the highly-skilled workers needed to fill these jobs are not guaranteed. The Long Island delegation is coming together to fight to have these jobs and the innovative new hub on Long Island," said Congressman Israel.
"Long Island MacArthur Airport has been home to the FAA family for almost 50 years. We look forward to the opportunity to provide a home for the next generation of FAA operation," said Islip Town Supervisor Tom Croci.
The FAA plans to construct a $220 million new Integrated Control Facility (ICF) to improve air traffic control capabilities, reduce congestion, increase safety, and ultimately decrease travel delays. The project is part of the FAA's NextGen plan, which overhauls they way air traffic is controlled in the United States, moving from ground-based radar technology to satellite-based global positioning systems (GPS). Upon full implementation, it is expected the program could reduce fight times and delays by up to 21%. In order to do so, the FAA is slated to build four integrated facilities for the northeast at a cost of $2.3 billion and will consolidate dozens of older facilities in order to do so. Two facilities which will be consolidated in the process are on Long Island. Both the TRACON facility in Westbury and New York Center in Ronkonkoma would be consolidated in the new ICF.
The FAA is currently reviewing locations for the construction of the Northeast facility, which must be within 150 miles of New York City and will service the New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia metropolitan areas. In a meeting with Senator Schumer last week, the Acting Administrator committed that the control center would be built in New York, but a final destination has yet to be chosen. Currently, more than 850 jobs exist between both the Westbury and Ronkonkoma FAA facilities. Air traffic controllers located at these two facilities have an average salary of $137,000 and the overall average salary at these two locations is $100,000. In addition to maintaining the over 850 permanent jobs currently on Long Island, the construction of the new facility could create an additional 1,000 construction jobs on the island. The FAA expects to make a final decision on the location for the new facility by May 2013.
On a tour of MacArthur Airport today, Schumer, Bishop, Israel, and Croci, made the case for Long Island by citing the already existing facilities on Long Island, an in-place local workforce, and access to mass transit. On the tour, they presented MacArthur as one of several options for the final site location, but also mentioned potential sites in central Nassau County and in Seldon in Suffolk County.
Senator Gillibrand, who met with FAA Acting Administrator Huerta this past Friday, said, "The FAA's visit to MacArthur Airport today shows their commitment to keep hundreds of jobs here on Long Island. MacArthur Airport is a strong choice to house the new air traffic control tower. I will continue the push to ensure that the new facility would be built on Long Island."
Representatives McCarthy and King, who were unable to make the tour and meeting, have also been strong advocates of constructing the new facility on Long Island.
Congresswoman McCarthy said, ""I'm grateful to Senator Schumer and Senator Gillibrand for supporting the call to keep the FAA's regional air traffic control jobs here on Long Island. Hundreds of local jobs are at stake and the fact that they're supporting them shows their commitment to the people of Nassau and Suffolk Counties."