FAA: Safety Not Affected by Radar Staffing Change

 - April 18, 2007, 5:38 AM

Defending its plans to halt around-the-clock technical staffing of the Pico del Este long-range radar in Puerto Rico, the FAA said today that the change will not affect coverage or safety in the Caribbean region. The response came after allegations by the Professional Airways System Specialists (PASS) union, which represents FAA technicians, alleged that the agency’s decision was “completely negligent” and deletion of all staff at Pico del Este would “lengthen response times to crises since technicians will be four hours away from the site.” All four technicians are being reassigned to San Juan International Airport. An FAA spokeswoman pointed out that the Pico del Este radar is one of dozens of overlapping radars serving civil aviation, the Department of Defense (DOD) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) missions in Caribbean airspace. She added that the Pico del Este radar does not support Drug Enforcement Administration operations, as claimed by PASS. The spokeswoman concluded, “The FAA will continue to provide the same level of service it has always provided its customers...taking advantage of the upgraded technology and [$1 million in] facility improvements. If the Pico del Este radar is taken out of service, either through failure or scheduled maintenance, the safety of the flying public and DOD and ICE missions is not adversely affected.”