As the up/down towers are split, there’ll be an overlapping movement to combine small and medium (split) approach controls into combined facilities. Let’s call them Metroplexes. In the mid-90’s, the last time they talked about doing this, they were called ACFs (area control facility) and MCFs (metropolitan control facilities). If you stick around long enough, you get to see things again.
They’ll probably take all the medium Approach facilities in each State and combine them. This way there won’t be any kickback from the Senators; they’ll still have the same number of federal employees as constituents.
All the radar and radio signals are digital now, and all the connections between systems are digital. The thing about a digital process is that location doesn’t matter. They can send radar information from the Praxis ASR9 to the Mid-State Metroplex just as easy as we used to send it to Praxis Approach.
There will be three overt reasons used to justify the move to Metroplexes. First, there’s going to be projections of cost savings accomplished by putting everything in the same building. Generally, those cost savings are going to come out of reduced PASS technician staffing, and there will also be reductions through remote monitoring and remote reset capability.
Second will be the equipment upgrade. Having all the facilities in one building using newer scopes will make it easier to transition to NextGen.
The third reason given for moving from Praxis Approach into the Metroplex will be that across the country, our buildings are in terrible condition – leaky roofs, moldy walls, asbestos ceilings. Instead of building a dozen new facilities across the state, it’ll be much easier to build one facility and move the controllers to it.
The real reason for combining the Approach Controls is that the Industry finds large, complex facilities much more profitable.
You won’t be able to look in the Flight Plan for “combine tracons”; that’s not in there. The key phrase is “transform facilities“. For instance, look at this presentation on page 12. Click here for Bruce Johnson’s 2007 testimony, which includes “”A key element of the FAA’s transformation into NextGen is consolidation of our facilities.””
You might not believe they’re going to split small facilities and combine the approach control. Call your friend in Canton, Youngstown, or Mansfield Ohio and ask about the plan to move their Approach controls to Cleveland.