FAA, Natca Differ On Controller Staffing Stats
The ink was scarcely dry on an FAA press release about successfully hiring new controllers when the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (Natca) said it begs to differ with the agency’s conclusions. On Friday, the FAA said it exceeded its air traffic controller staffing targets for the fiscal year that ended on September 30 by hiring more than 1,800 controllers during the year, topping the FY06 year-end total by 256 controllers. As a result, the agency now employs 14,874 controllers. However, the union countered that “a record number of controller retirements” and total attrition in FY07, “fueled by outrage over the lack of a contract,” soared past FAA projections by 30 percent and has left the country with a 15-year low in the number of fully certified controllers on the job and a glut of new hires that the FAA is failing to train effectively or efficiently. Acting FAA Administrator Bobby Sturgell admitted that the agency predicted 700 retirements but ended up with 828.