Letter to Congressman Neugebauer Regarding FAA's Decision To Realign the Abilene, TX TRACON Functions Into the Dallas/Ft. Worth TRACON
On January 17, 2013, we issued a letter to Representative Randy Neugebauer regarding the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) decision to realign the Abilene Regional Airport’s terminal radar approach control facility (TRACON) functions into the Dallas/Ft. Worth TRACON. Specifically, at the Representative’s request, we reviewed three business cases produced by FAA that evaluated the costs and potential savings associated with the realignment, including the underlying assumptions used in each of the business cases. Our review found that none of FAA’s three business cases presented a comprehensive picture of the costs and potential benefits of the Agency’s Abilene TRACON realignment effort. Of the three, the most recent business case—created by an independent contractor in February 2011—provides the most detailed cost comparison given how it projected long-term air traffic controller labor costs, the largest cost driver of the realignment. However, none of the business cases provide enough information to determine whether the TRACON realignment would result in future cost savings or operational benefits. We also reported that the assumptions used in the three business cases regarding staffing levels, equipment, and other items only represent estimates of future costs, and will likely differ from what will actually be implemented, resulting in different costs and savings.