Although the FAA needs to hire 11,800 new controllers through Fiscal Year 2015 to replace retirees and other vacancies, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (Natca) noted the agency’s own FAA Administrator’s Fact Book (a quarterly publication) reports that the overall total number of controllers dropped from 14,227 at the end of FY2005 to 14,206 in FY2006.
Federal Aviation Administration
When the idea was initially being explored a number of years ago, FAA planners saw a use for automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) only in Alaska, where the technology would allow aircraft operating beyond the reach of radar to develop their own position data using onboard GPS equipment, and then transmit that data to others in the region through either a microwave satellite uplink and downlink or ground-based VHF network.
“The job of a controller is no longer just separating airplanes,” National Air Traffic Controllers Association president John Carr told attendees at a symposium on “Post 9/11 Security Impacts on Air Traffic Control and Aviation” in Washington, D.C., in late January. “They have to be aware of possibilities that we did not even contemplate on the morning of September 10.”
NBAA’s prophecy is coming true. The FAA published a “show cause” notice to extend the flight-reduction program through October 31 at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. The program went into effect on November 1, originally with an expiration date of April 30.
The NTSB has asked the FAA to limit the number of times a pilot can fail a checkride and questioned whether the existing requirements of providing additional training after multiple failures is adequate. Additionally, the Safety Board wants the FAA to require Part 121 and 135 operators to improve their safety background checks of pilot applicants by obtaining all notices of failed checkrides before making a hiring decision.
Last month, FAA COO Russell Chew told a standing-room-only audience at the annual conference of the U.S. Air Traffic Control Association that a widening gap between the falling income and rising expenses of the agency’s Air Traffic Organization (ATO) could reach a cumulative $8.2 billion over the next five years and he said the FAA must take positive actions to close this gap.
Last year, the Bush Administration unveiled its proposed “next generation air transportation system” and then cut the FAA’s facilities and equipment (F&E) budget request by nearly $400 million.
On March 22 comments are due on draft AC 145-RSTP (Repair Station Training Program). The circular defines the scope and description of the required repair station training manual that is required as the result of new Part 145 regulations. The FAA initially promised the industry that the AC would be available by Aug. 6, 2001, the date the final regulations were published. New FAR 145.163 is scheduled to go into effect April 6.
Members of the National Association of Air Traffic Specialists (NAATS), the labor union that represents more than 2,700 FAA employees who staff the agency’s automated flight service stations (AFSS), are joining with information technology contractor Harris Corp. in a bid to keep their jobs from being outsourced to a private company.
The FAA’s budgetary woes are but one symptom of the U.S. fiscal freight train that has been speeding down the track with ever greater wobbles since 9/11.