Senator Pushing For Air Traffic Center At Depot

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TOBYHANNA -- A Pennsylvania senator is trying to convince the FAA to build a new air traffic control center in Pennsylvania. Right now, the FAA is only considering areas in New York.

The new air traffic control center will replace two other facilities in New York that are outdated. Those facilities track airplanes in mid-flight.

Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey is hoping to convince the FAA to build at Tobyhanna Army depot instead of New York.

"It's a very good location; geographically it has sufficient proximity to New York City, which is one of the important criteria," said Senator Toomey.

FAA officials say the new facility will replace two older air traffic control centers on Long Island that are at the end of their useful lives.

At Pocono Mountain Municipal Airport Tom Gilbert - a pilot and auto mechanic for Moyer Aviation - says the control centers are important to pilots.

"They're managing the airplanes flight path in between airports."

A spokesperson with the Tobyhanna Army Depot is glad Senator Toomey is pushing for their location and says:

"Col. Gerhard P.R. Schröter, depot commander, discussed Tobyhanna's technical capabilities in support of a wide-range of radar, navigation and command and control systems."

However, right now the FAA is sticking with New York. According to a spokesperson with the FAA: "The FAA is continuing efforts to plan a facility in New York. While the FAA has completed some preliminary engineering and design work, a final location has not been determined at this time."

But Senator Toomey believes the Tobyhanna depot location has more to offer and is pushing the FAA to consider this location.

"It's existing infrastructure, this isn't' land the federal government would have to buy, the federal government owns it now."

As for Tom Giblert, who has been flying for 15 years, he says Tobyhanna Army Depot would be a great location for a new facility.

"It sounds like a good idea. Tobyhanna Army Depot, you would think they have some security in place which is always necessary for an FAA facility."

Toomey expects the FAA to make a decision on a location by June, but an FAA official says it's unknown whether or not that agency will visit Tobyhanna Army Depot or exactly when a decision on a location for the new air traffic control center will be made.