Austin (KXAN) — After a nationwide safety review, the Federal Aviation Administration said Austin-Bergstrom International Airport will be the first of nearly 100 facilities to receive new tower simulator systems in an effort to boost Air Traffic Control safety.
In an announcement Friday, the FAA said it’s taking immediate action on recommendations from the review. Some of those include providing additional support to ATC college training programs, year-round hiring for experienced controllers from the military and private industries, expanding advanced training at facilities across the country, and deploying tower simulators in 95 facilities by December 2025.
According to the FAA, it will deploy the first of these systems at AUS by January 2024.
U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett represents Travis County and is among several local and state politicians that have been outspoken about the safety improvements at AUS.
He said these immediate actions from the FAA is a welcomed start, but more progress is needed to secure safety for employees and passengers in Austin.
“I don’t think that this announcement provides any immediate relief for us here in Austin. We are still understaffed, under authorized and under equipped,” Doggett said.
Earlier this week, Vanessa Fuentes, Austin City Council member for District 2, addressed what the city could do to improve safety on the ground at the airport.
She said the city is set to implement an interim ramp-control program by January of next year, with a third party to take over the permanent program down the road.
According to the city, it is designed to to provide an “enhanced view of the airport’s gates and aprons using technology, like cameras, aircraft tracking, and air-to-ground radios, without the use of a physical tower.”
The outcry for more Air Traffic safety and on-the-ground safety has been the result of several near misses at AUS, as well as employee injuries. Just last month, an airport employee died after being struck by a fuel truck on the airport’s grounds.