In 1981 President Reagan fired virtually all aircraft traffic controllers and banned them from reapplying for controller jobs after their union, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Association (Patco), convinced them to strike. While nearly 800 Patco controllers have been re-hired since President Clinton lifted the ban in 1993, “thousands” of others have not been hired because of their age, Patco said.
Air traffic controller
The head of the 14,000-member air traffic controllers union said last month that the FAA is trumpeting the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) to mask poor morale and severe staffing shortages among its controller workforce.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) has teamed with a New Zealand-based company to provide the international aviation community with aviation English training to meet a new International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) requirement that identifies English as the official, recognized language of aviation.
A Brazilian public prosecutor has recommended that a federal judge indict four air traffic controllers and the two American pilots involved in the midair collision between an Embraer Legacy operated by ExcelAire and a Boeing 737 operated by Gol over the Amazon jungle last September. The prosecutor is requesting that one of the controllers, Jomarcelo Fernandes dos Santos, be charged with intentional manslaughter.
The NTSB issued a series of recommendations this week asking the FAA and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association to tighten regulations and procedures pertaining to controller vigilance, training and fatigue.
The FAA said its notice to tower controllers to review the taxi into position and hold (TIPH) procedure is not intended to end the practice, as the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) alleges. “Basically, we are seeing a small trend of runway incursions resulting from that procedure,” said an FAA spokesperson. “We wanted to raise awareness and see if it is still required.
Unilaterally imposed work rules and the FAA reauthorization process are among the issues Pat Forrey, new president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (Natca), plans to address during his first year in office. Forrey took over the association’s reins in September after he defeated two-term incumbent John Carr.
The FAA revised its controller hiring plan early last month to adjust for greater retirement numbers and revisions to staffing requirements at each of the agency’s 314 staffed facilities. The plan provides a range of authorized controller staffing numbers, giving the agency greater flexibility to match the number of controllers with traffic volume and workload.
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association urged the Senate appropriations transportation subcommittee to ask FAA Administrator Marion Blakey what the agency plans to do about “the looming air traffic control staffing crisis.” The association anticipates a personnel shortage of up to 50 percent in the next 10 years. “This is of particular concern because it takes up to five years to train a controller,” said NATCA president John Carr.
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association filed a lawsuit in late January asking a federal court to order the Federal Service Impasses Panel to resolve a bargaining issue between NATCA and the FAA that affects employees at 11 facilities. NATCA also named the Federal Labor Relations Authority in its suit.