Sylvania-area businessman Dock David Treece on Wednesday accused the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority of ignoring the possible loss of a radar installation at the airport.
In a two-page letter to the Federal Aviation Administration, which he copied to The Blade, Mr. Treece’s father, Dock D. Treece, said the planned removal of the Terminal Radar Approach Control at Toledo Express Airport is dangerous.
The younger Mr. Treece attached his father’s comment to the FAA in an email to news reporters along with the comment that “the loss of financial support from the FAA is a very real risk facing Toledo that is being largely ignored.”
His comments drew a rebuke from the head of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, which said the “realignment” of the radar system, known as TRACON, is not a danger to Toledo aviation. Toledo would still have a manned control tower even if the TRACON system is moved, according to prepared materials from the port authority.
The two Treeces, along with second son Benjamin Treece, last year launched an effort to take over Toledo Express Airport. The plan collapsed when newly elected Mayor D. Michael Collins opposed it.
The elder Treece contends that closure of TRACON in Toledo — and relocation of its responsibilities to Detroit or Cleveland — could result in delays and “unsustainable workloads” in the event of a disaster.
“In addition to these concerns for general aviation, cargo, and commercial flights, the realignment of TRACON away from Toledo Express would also adversely affect the ability of the 180th [Fighter Wing of the Ohio Air National Guard] to fulfill their mission to protect America’s borders and our skies,” wrote Mr. Treece, who says he is a pilot and owner of an aircraft.
The FAA is conducting a public hearing on the consolidation of the radar operations.
Paul Toth, chief executive officer of the port authority that operates the airport on a long-term lease from Toledo, said the Treeces are wrong about the “realignment” of the TRACON being a threat to Toledo aviation safety.
He said the staff in the control tower visually guide planes into and out of the airport. Once those craft are beyond visual contact they are turned over to the TRACON operators “in a darkened room” on the second floor of the tower to track them to other airspace, Mr. Toth said. He said that room does not have to be in Toledo for the operators to do their job.
“Your efforts to mislead the media on this matter is unwarranted,” Mr. Toth said in his email to Dock David Treece.
He said the port authority has been in public and private communication with the FAA about the radar facility for two years and cited a public hearing held last week on the FAA plan to consolidate radar control.
“During that meeting last week, which was attended by Steve Arnold, Airport Manager, it was clearly articulated that if the process to consolidate the TRACON operation of TOL into either Detroit, Cleveland, or Kalamazoo were to happen, that this process will in no way affect the safety and/or operational capability at Toledo Express Airport,” Mr. Toth said in an email to Dock David Treece.
“We will continue to support the operation of TRACON operations at Toledo, but we also recognize that consolidation of TRACON operations across the U.S. is [imminent] based upon the edict of Congress.”
A 2012 law ordered the FAA to transition to the Next Generation Air Transportation System. Mr. Toth said the FAA is under an “edict” from Congress to reduce costs, but without adversely affecting safety.