With the Federal Aviation Administration looking to consolidate its air traffic control facilities in the region, officials from across Suffolk gathered at Long Island MacArthur Airport (LIMA) on Thursday to encourage the FAA to house its new center at the airport in Ronkonkoma.
The FAA is looking to bring its air traffic control operations, currently located in Ronkonoma and Westbury, under one roof.
In addition to Long Island, published reports have indicated the FAA is also looking at locations in Poughkeepsie and Albany.
During a press conference at the airport, Islip Town Supervisor Tom Croci said locating the NextGen air traffic control facility at MacArthur would keep current high-paying air traffic control jobs in the County, and also create new construction jobs in the region.
“The FAA is already a member of our community,” Croci said. “Their employees live and shop in our Town; their children go to our schools. The airport is a natural fit for the future of the FAA.”
Although no economic impact study has been done to calculate the effect of losing the 524 positions at the current Ronkonkoma air traffic control facility, Croci said those jobs leaving Long Island would be devastating.
“It would have a tremendous impact on the local economy,” he said. “But on the opposite side having the new facility here would add another 500 high-paying jobs, and that would be a real spark locally.”
In addition to bringing more air traffic control jobs to Suffolk, officials also noted construction of the new facility would create more than 1,000 construction jobs, and also present a new opportunity for Long Island’s aerospace and technology firms to expand and grow.
While job preservation and creation was a main theme touched on by nearly all of the town, county and state officials who spoke during the press conference, Islip’s supervisor further noted MacArthur Airport currently surpasses FAA site requirements for a new air traffic control facility.
Islip Town officials said the airport’s location is within the 150-mile radius FAA requirement for the new facility, and MacArthur also meets the need to have access to power and fiber optic lines.
Furthermore, the location of the new structure must also meet FAA acreage requirements, which the airport surpasses since more than 80 acres are available.
Croci said the FAA is expected to make a decision on where to place the consolidated air traffic control facility within the year.