With the failure of Congress to take any action in the contract dispute between the FAA and the air traffic controllers union, the agency arbitrarily put its last contract proposal into effect as yesterday’s deadline expired. The FAA declared an impasse on April 5 after nine months of negotiations with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association that the agency claimed cost taxpayers $2.3 million.
National Air Traffic Controllers Association
The $388 billion omnibus spending bill Congress passed late last year cut the FAA’s budget for Fiscal Year 2005 to $13.6 billion, $219 million less than in FY 2004. But lawmakers added $9.5 million more than the Bush Administration requested to train more air traffic controllers.
Hoping to stave off a shortage in air traffic controllers caused by an expected wave of retirements, the FAA will hire 12,500 controllers over the next 10 years and improve training so that candidates can become fully certified more quickly. More than 11,000 controllers are expected to leave the agency between now and 2014.
In a report released early last month, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association said policy decisions by the Bush Administration, not inadequate revenues, are causing the declining balance in the Aviation Trust Fund.
A Government Accountability Office (GAO) study of five foreign ATC service providers contends that since “commercialization,” they have maintained safety, controlled costs and improved efficiency. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association emphasized that controllers in Cleveland alone handle more operations annually than all of Canada’s controllers handle. It is difficult to compare the U.S.
As opposition continued to mount against a plan to make the Washington, D.C., air defense identification zone (ADIZ) permanent, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta announced at the AOPA Expo that he has extended the comment period deadline from November 2 to February 6.
The FAA’s air traffic controller contract proposal maintains the average base pay of current controllers ($166,000), which the agency said is a 74-percent increase since the 1998 contract. The union is proposing to raise average total compensation for all controllers to more than $200,000 in the next four years, according to the agency.
The union representing air traffic controllers rejected the FAA’s call last month for federal mediation to help the agency reach a new 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 negotiations on July 13.
The FAA on November 14 will implement its organization delegation authorization (ODA) program, which will replace the current designee program. The new ODA program, proposed in January last year, expands the functions that designees may perform, permits non-FAA-certified individuals and organizations to become designees and eliminates the existing designee categories.
A Government Accountability Office study of five foreign air navigation service providers, including Nav Canada, found that since “commercialization,” all have maintained safety, controlled costs and improved efficiency. All five have invested in new technologies that they say lowered costs by increasing controllers’ productivity and produced operating efficiencies, such as fewer or shorter delays.