Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02) continues to lead the fight against the Federal Aviation Administrations (FAA) plans to consolidate the Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) facility at the Southeast Texas Regional Airport (BPT) in Port Arthur, Texas. Congressman Poe extends his appreciation to the FAA for holding a meeting with Jefferson County officials this week, but he urges the FAA to delay their decision to move forward with the scheduled April transfer of the Port Arthur facility to the Houston facility until they complete their community stakeholder meetings.

In August of 2007, Congressman Poe hosted a Town Hall Meeting with the FAA to give residents the opportunity to voice their opinions and ask questions regarding the proposed transfer. As a result of that meeting, the FAA was to hold additional meetings with various community stakeholders. Unfortunately, on January 18, 2008, the FAA announced that they would go forward with the April consolidation deadline before hearing from all interested parties.

I appreciate the FAA coming to Jefferson County this Friday to meet with stakeholders, but I would like to see them keep their word to meet with private pilots and air traffic controllers before the consolidation takes place, said Poe. There are valid concerns over service and safety in our skies resulting from this consolidation and these concerns need to be fully addressed before they move forward. Senator Hutchison and I have personally met with FAA Administrator Bobby Sturgell and we have had ongoing communications regarding the best way to handle this transition with the affected stakeholders. However, the decision by the FAA to move forward without involving the community stakeholders further is very disappointing.

Congressman Poe is taking continued measures to ensure that safety, not money, is the number one priority for this consolidation. Congressman Poe is urging the FAA to raise the staffing range levels of Air Traffic Controllers at the Houston facility to include dedicated personnel for the Southeast Texas region that will be consolidated into their airspace.

Additional personnel in the Houston TRACON facility are vital to air traffic safety and service to pilots, continued Poe. It doesnt make sense to increase the number of planes in your airspace and not the number of Air Traffic Controllers to coincide with that increase. It is of the utmost importance that the FAA implements a plan that will ensure safety and the highest level of service in our skies. There is no room for penny-pinching in this business.

In May 2007, Congressman Poe sponsored the FAA Facility Consolidation Moratorium Act to place a temporary moratorium on consolidations of all TRACON facilities that resulted in the initial postponement of the TRACON at the Southeast Texas Regional Airport.

Congressman Poe serves on the House Transportation Committee; Aviation Subcommittee and has been a leading advocate against the BPT TRACON Consolidation. Poe maintains regular communication with the FAA, the Airline Owners and Pilots Association, community leaders and constituents in an ongoing effort to ensure all parties have input on this issue.