U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen toured the Boston Air Route Traffic Control Center in Nashua Monday afternoon to highlight the upcoming debate in Washington on funding to upgrade the nation’s network of air traffic control towers.
The Senate is proposing a $54 billion Transportation, Housing and Urban Development or THUD Appropriations Bill, that will spare air traffic controllers in Nashua and at other airports from mandatory furloughs and would also continue the investment in NextGen, a Federal Aviation Administration initiative that will shift the nation’s ground-based air traffic control system to a satellite-based system. The House version of the THUD calls for roughly $44 billion in spending.
“The FAA is here, and Nashua is a critical center,” said Shaheen. “We all know how important it is, what they do and how they keep us safe.”
Shaheen said that Congress has not maintained an adequate level of funding for the FAA, and the National Airspace System is at risk for losing FAA air traffic control towers.
Nashua Mayor Donnalee Lozeau, who toured the center with Shaheen, also highlighted the need for continuing to invest in the center’s air traffic control technology, especially since the
“This is the busiest general aviation airport in the Northeast,” said Lozeau.
Shaheen acknowledged that in hard economic times all federal spending receives more scrutiny, but added that the air travel system is a priority.
“One of the things we saw inside was new technology to better manage air traffic,” she said. “But we need training and equipment and we have to make sure the resources are there. Air safety is the priority.”
During her visit, Shaheen also met with Patricia Clark who worked as an administrative assistant at the airport since it opened in 1963. Shaheen and U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte sponsored legislation to rename the aviation center the Patricia Clark Boston Air Route Traffic Control Center in honor of her decades of service.“
The visit was also a wonderful chance to meet with Patricia Clark to personally thank her for her work at the Air Route Traffic Control Center. It was an honor to help recognize such an outstanding federal employee for her long and dedicated service,” Shaheen said.