Hoping to stave off a shortage of air traffic controllers caused by an expected wave of retirements, the FAA intends to hire 12,500 new controllers during the next 10 years and improve training so that candidates can become fully certified professional controllers more quickly.
National Air Traffic Controllers Association
The FAA is taking what the Transportation Department inspector general (IG) calls a “long overdue step” with regard to its standard terminal automation replacement system (Stars), trying to decide how best to salvage a program begun in 1996 and still not fully deployed.
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 noted the agency’s latest FAA Administrator’s Fact Book reports that the overall total number of controllers dropped from 14,227 at the end of FY2005 to 14,206 in FY2006.
At the FAA’s two-day New Technology Workshop last month, the focus was sharply on the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NGATS). The key enablers to get there, according to Nick Sabatini, FAA associate administrator for aviation safety, will be “performance-based” navigation and Internet-like access to critical information such as near real-time weather.
The latest Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on FAA efforts to modernize the ATC system restates that the agency continues to miss cost, schedule and performance targets.
The union representing air traffic controllers rejected the FAA’s request yesterday for federal mediation to help the agency reach a labor agreement with controllers, labeling it a “publicity stunt.” A 1998 contract expired on September 30, and the FAA suggests that little progress has been made since it and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association began negotiating on July 13.
Nearly three months after the union representing air traffic controllers rejected the FAA’s request for federal mediation to help reach a labor agreement, the union has changed its mind, saying it is “unhappy with the pace of the negotiations in the last two weeks.” When the FAA called for federal mediation last November, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) labeled it a “publicity stunt.” At that time, a NATCA spokesman to
FAA Administrator Marion Blakey stonewalled the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (Natca) in new contract talks, declaring an impasse on April 5 and unilaterally imposing a new contract on June 5. The actions came after nine months of negotiations with the union that the agency claimed cost taxpayers $2.3 million.
In the late 1970s, Continental Airlines president Frank Lorenzo used a court of law to confront his pilots with an existing, although seldom used, negotiating technique, abrogating their contract when he was unable to secure an agreement through traditional collective bargaining. He quickly replaced his then striking workers with a non-union workforce willing to accept his management style and pay scale.
Citing a serious near collision of two widebodies in Chicago last July, the NTSB at a public meeting Tuesday called again for “effective action” by the FAA to counter the danger posed by potentially catastrophic runway collisions.