For Immediate Release

September 1, 1999
Contact: John Clabes, Roland Herwig
Phone: (405) 954-7500

Houston Center (ZHU) is a Level-3 en route air traffic control facility supporting Houston Metropolitan Area and the southeast and southwest arrival routes into the Dallas/Fort Worth terminal area. Also supported are Austin, San Antonio, New Orleans, and the Rio Grande Valley. Boundaries reach from east of Ft. Stockton, across the southern parts of Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi to Mobile, Ala.

Houston Center has 175,000 square miles of domestic airspace, and 110,000 square miles of oceanic airspace in the Gulf of Mexico. Houston Center also controls some 40,000 square miles of offshore airspace for IFR helicopter operations. The Center has 18 major military installations in its airspace. Some of these provide pilot training requiring many complex military operating areas (MOA's). Houston Center's air traffic count for 1998 was 2,016,225 operations.

Houston Center is working to enhance communications, navigation, airways, airspace boundaries, surveillance, and traffic management for the Gulf of Mexico. A radio buoy system is scheduled to be in place by the end of 1999 to provide communication in the extreme southeast corner of the Gulf. Traffic capacity in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to increase by 200 percent as a result of the project.

The Host and Oceanic Computer System Replacement (HOCSR) was operational on March 29, 1999. The Display System Replacement (DSR) was operational on September 9, 1999.

The Center has been located on George Bush Intercontinental Airport for 34 years. Working there are 419 air traffic employees and 47 airway facilities employees (technicians and engineers who maintain and certify the equipment). These FAA people are supported by some 77 contract personnel. This year, the Center received the 1998 Southwest Region Operational Excellence Award, and FAA's Customer Service Award for 1998.

Houston Center is also recipient of the Houston Federal Executive Board and Federal Business Association's Wally Grimes Public Service Award for 1998. Area federal and business leaders recognized the Center for establishing a satellite-based navigational route structure "grid system" in the Gulf of Mexico that has reduced system delays and increased air traffic safety.