WASHINGTON, 8 Dec. 2008.Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials broke ground for the new state-of-the-art air traffic control system facility.
Management of the nation's air traffic control system will move to a permanent home in a facility near Warrenton, Va., in 2011, when a new Federal Aviation Administration Air Traffic Control System Command Center is completed. The existing command center near Washington Dulles International Airport will close when its lease expires in 2011.
The command center will continue to oversee the nation's entire air traffic control system, including air traffic control towers, approach and departure facilities, and high-altitude control centers. The facility also will monitor all electronic navigation aids.
Acting FAA Administrator Robert A. Sturgell says the 63,000-square-foot building that will house the FAA's new command center will share its site with the FAA's Potomac TRACON, a consolidated approach and departure control facility serving Washington, Baltimore, and Richmond-area airports.
"This is what state-of-the-art looks like," Sturgell says. "As a nation, we're moving to satellite-based air traffic control, and this facility will help us reap the benefits. This is the headquarters for air traffic control efficiency."
The center's staff do not directly control traffic, but monitor and coordinate with other air traffic facilities and system users, including the airlines, the military and business aviation groups, fAA officials say. The center's main mission is management of the entire airspace system to balance demand with capacity, and to deal with weather and other potential disruptions to air traffic.
About 300 controllers, managers, and support staff members will move from the existing facility to the command center, which will house some of the most sophisticated air traffic display and communications equipment available, FAA officials say. Equipping the center will cost an estimated $46 million.
The FAA has awarded a $22 million contract to Corinthian Construction Company of Arlington, Va., to build the new center. In addition to Corinthian, four other companies in Maryland and Virginia will be major subcontractors. Placing the command center adjacent to Potomac TRACON enables the FAA to use utilities and infrastructure put in place when the TRACON was built on land that once was the home of the Vint Hill Farms military base, FAA officials say.