Speaking at this year’s EAA AirVenture, acting FAA Administrator Bobby Sturgell defended the track record of various agency-industry cooperative safety and inspection programs against Congressional criticism and promised to crack down on those who abuse rules governing amateur-built aircraft.
National Air Traffic Controllers Association
Tongue firmly in cheek, National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) president John Carr thanked Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta for the Bush Administration’s decision to declare seafood inspection an “inherently governmental” function. He added that the safety of our nation’s seafood supply should be a national priority.
Although Congress is on its annual summer vacation, the battle over privatization of ATC continued at press time. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.) said in a telephone press conference on August 13 that they will fight a proposal in the pending FAA reauthorization bill that would allow privatization of 69 general aviation control towers now staffed by FAA controllers.
On September 13, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey will have completed the first year of her five-year tenure in the position. Is she meeting expectations? Has anything changed? Can any mortal possibly alter the course of what some have called one of the more dysfunctional agencies in the federal government?
A shortage of controllers at Chicago Center and an uptick in air traffic in that sector are a prescription for disaster that the FAA has so far ignored at the expense of public safety, claim officials for the air traffic controllers union.
House and Senate staff members continued working last month to resolve differences in the two separate versions of FAA reauthorization legislation passed by their respective bodies in June, even though the House/Senate conference committee had yet to convene officially.
Although the FAA has finally commissioned its first standard terminal automation replacement system (Stars), the agency has drastically reduced the number of systems it plans to install at the nation’s airports. And that has caused some people to question the FAA’s commitment to ATC modernization.
A bill introduced in the House of Representatives in late June provides a mechanism for resolving the longstanding contract dispute between the FAA and the air traffic controllers union. It also provides airline passengers with rights to “fair treatment” when facing significant delays due to weather or other extraordinary circumstances.
Both the House and the Senate passed their own versions of an FAA reauthorization bill last month, so differences between the two measures–and the threat of Presidential veto–must be resolved by a House/ Senate conference committee before Congress casts its final vote.
Even the hint of a privatized ATC system in the Bush Administration’s budget for fiscal year 2003 has “angered and disappointed” the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (Natca). And AOPA is not too happy either.