Airport faces changes in air traffic control tower; FAA plans to move radar station to Columbus, taking 30-35 controllers.

DAYTON - The government's planned relocation of its radar approach control station from Dayton International Airport to Columbus is likely to take 30 to 35 air traffic controllers' jobs with it, a union spokesman said.

It would require that many experienced controllers to provide adequate 24-hour, seven-days-a-week staffing of the station that oversees aircraft headed for the Dayton airport and facilities ranging from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to the DHL air cargo hub in Wilmington, said Duke Dudley, president of the Dayton chapter of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.

The Federal Aviation Administration would leave behind the air traffic control functions for Dayton International Airport, which would likely require a work force of 12 to 15 controllers, said Dudley, an FAA controller since 1986.

The relocation of the radar approach function won't take place for about three years, FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro said. The FAA will negotiate with the controllers' union about the number of jobs that will be moved, Molinaro said.

Dayton has 35 fully trained controllers now. The FAA could replenish the Dayton work force by bringing in graduates from the controllers' training school in Oklahoma City or inviting experienced ones to transfer in from other cities, Dudley said.

Controllers can start at annual base pay of $35,000 and progress to more than $100,000 yearly, he said. The average salary for Dayton controllers is $95,000 to $133,000, the FAA said.

The FAA informed the controllers' union by letter in October 2006 that the Dayton radar approach control function would be moved to Columbus anytime after June 27, 2007, and that reassignment of some employees would be required as a result.

The scheduled 2010 startup of the Dayton airport's new control tower would give the FAA an opportunity to transfer controllers to Port Columbus International Airport and restaff the Dayton tower, Dudley said. The agency would also have the option to turn operation of the tower over to a private contractor as it has done in Muncie and Anderson, Ind., and other locations, he said.

Molinaro said the FAA has no plans to turn the Dayton tower's operation over to a private company.

Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2242 or jnolan@DaytonDailyNews. com.