CUSTOMS TO EXPAND AVIATION CENTER
U.S. Customs has announced plans this week to expand its National Aviation Center in Oklahoma City.
The center, created in 1987, provides aircraft operations training for Customs’ Air and Marine Interdiction Program. A House subcommittee has proposed an additional $54 million funding in next year’s budget for the interdiction program.
“I am encouraged by the subcommittee’s proposal and the prospect of expanding Customs’ National Aviation Center to provide additional standardization and training for our crew members who protect our borders and coastlines from illegal drugs,” said Charles W. Winwood, acting commissioner of Customs.
The increased funding continues Congress’ support for the Western Hemispheric Drug Elimination Act. The proposed budget for Customs’ interdiction program includes $20 million for maritime aircraft, $6.4 million for interceptor marine vessels, $2.3 million for upgrades to the Air and Sea Interdiction Coordination Center, $5.1 million for safety enhancements, $4.9 million for the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, and $4 million for electro-optical and infrared equipment. Customs said the funding would also help to replace obsolete and inefficient equipment.