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DEFENSE COMMUNITIES 360

FAA Moving Command Center to Vint Hill

  • March 8, 2011
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By the end of the month, the Federal Aviation Administration’s new command center at Vint Hill, in Fauquier County, Va., should be fully staffed and operational, adding 270 employees to the former Vint Hill Farms Station.

The center — officially the Air Traffic Control System Command Center — oversees the nation’s air traffic control system and balances air traffic demand with system capacity. The facility is next to the FAA’s Potomac Consolidated Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON), which employs about 300 air traffic controllers and other staff. The agency opened the TRACON at Vint Hill, located about 40 miles southwest of Washington, D.C., in December 2002.

The command center has been housed in leased space in Herndon, Va., since 1993. The move is intended to save the agency money, according to FAA spokeswoman Tammy Jones. The new building will be located on the 34-acre site the agency previously purchased from the Vint Hill Economic Development Authority for the TRACON. Expanding at Vint Hill also will allow the FAA to save on maintenance and security costs.

The Army post closed following the 1993 round of base closures.

Employees at the command center do not directly control traffic; rather, the traffic management specialists who work there plan and regulate the flow of air traffic to minimize delays and congestion while maximizing the overall use of the national airspace system. When phenomena such as adverse weather, equipment outages, runway closures or other significant events impact on an airport or area, the specialists adjust traffic demands to meet system capacity.

The FAA will hold an opening ceremony for the center April 9.

The Potomac TRACON is a consolidated approach and departure control facility that serves Reagan Washington National, Dulles International, Thurgood Marshall BWI, and Richmond International airports, along with Andrews Air Force Base. The air traffic controllers there guide aircraft within about a 75-mile radius of an airport. The facility’s controllers handle about 5,000 flights a day in 23,000 square miles of airspace covering parts of five states.

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