Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Tampa International Airport (KTPA) control tower needs upgrades

Looking down at Tampa International Airport from the air traffic control tower, we see the exciting improvements coming to our airport. Unfortunately, working in the tower, we face a different reality.

Our tower is in poor condition. Parts of the tower exterior are being held together with repair-work sealant. The large glass windows, which are essential to monitor planes on the ground, are no longer up to safety standards. Our controllers, who work hard 24/7 to monitor one of the nation's most complex air systems, use antiquated technology like paper flight strips. We're unable to install a modern ground radar system in part because of wear and tear to the tower.

The airport is undergoing a $2 billion renovation project to improve the Tampa flight experience, yet our air traffic controllers, who are responsible for keeping travelers safe and flights on time, work in a deteriorating physical environment with largely outdated technologies.

Although we're making progress by implementing modernization projects nationwide, long-term advancements are hampered by an unstable, unpredictable funding stream. That is why we support current U.S. House legislation, HR 2997, the 21st Century Aviation, Innovation, Reform and Reauthorization Act, which would create a federally chartered, not-for-profit air traffic control corporation to operate the system. The legislation would provide a stable, predictable funding stream that supports air traffic control services, staffing, hiring and training, long-term modernization, preventive maintenance and infrastructure modernization. It would also ensure the system keeps pace with current technology and would remove many of the government's slow, bureaucratic processes.

Tampa International is taking exciting and progressive steps toward the future of aviation, but modernization of our critical air traffic control function is falling behind. We can have a seamlessly run terminal, but without an updated air traffic control system, we are doing a great disservice to all Tampa travelers.

Jason Rebmann, facility representative, Tampa tower and terminal radar approach control, National Air Traffic Controllers Association 


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