Murkowski Expresses Concerns over Fairbanks Tower Monitoring Reductions
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Citing safety concerns, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today sent a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regarding reduced air traffic control staff in Fairbanks.
The FAA recently reduced personnel at the Fairbanks tower, including the terminal radar approach control (TRACON). TRACON personnel are responsible for safely placing planes in sequence for landing in Fairbanks. During the midnight shift, TRACON responsibilities are now handled by the regional radar center in Anchorage. Murkowski, in her letter to Acting FAA Administrator Lynne Osmus, expressed concern that such reductions may be dangerous to Fairbanks aviation traffic.
“I am concerned that the new procedure leaves the Fairbanks control tower understaffed,” Murkowski wrote. “I am told the procedure eliminates the ability of the Fairbanks facility to provide minimum safe altitude warnings to aircraft.”
Murkowski also expressed concern that the reduction in staff may reduce the Fairbanks facility’s preparedness to respond to airport emergencies or handle diverted aircraft from other airports.
Murkowski asked the FAA to provide her with a plan to staff the Fairbanks tower in the future.
“Our cities and villages are separated by vast expanses of undeveloped territory and most are not connected to a road system,” Murkowski wrote. “Alaska, more than any other state, relies on the services of the FAA to facilitate safe and efficient air transport.”
A copy of Senator Murkowski’s letter to Acting Administrator Osmus is attached.