Last week the FAA banned pilots and air traffic controllers from taking the anti-smoking medicine Chantix soon after the agency learned the prescription drug might jeopardize safety.
National Air Traffic Controllers Association
Air traffic controllers at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) are already hailing the airport movement area safety system (Amass) as an aviation success story after it alerted them to a potentially hazardous situation involving a business jet and a regional airliner on one of SFO’s runways.
Continuing its opposition to any hint of a privatized ATC system in the U.S., the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (Natca) said it is closely watching the funding problems being experienced in the UK and Canada. Privatization advocates in the U.S. point to what they call “successes” in both the UK and Canada to justify their position, said Natca president John Carr, who argued the word “failure” now applies.
With the anticipated publication this month of an NPRM in the Federal Register, the FAA is laying the groundwork for implementation of domestic reduced vertical separation minimums (DRVSM) in U.S. airspace between FL 290 and FL 410 in December 2004.
Britain’s partly privatized National Air Traffic Services (NATS) has asked the government to allow it to raise en route charges to make up an estimated £230 million ($327 million) revenue shortfall over the next three years. It has also had to request approximately £60 million ($85 million) in loans from the government and the consortium of banks that last year backed seven leading UK airlines when they acquired a 46-percent stake in NATS.
Early last month President Bush departed for a month-long hiatus in Texas and just about the same time Congress opted to take its August recess. So, the dog days of August descended on a more or less deserted legislative Washington.
The unions representing nearly 20,000 employees of the FAA have joined in a coalition “to hold the FAA accountable” for meeting its modernization goals and to improve working conditions at the agency. The coalition represents the largest group of organized employees at the FAA.
In one of her first speeches as FAA Administrator, Marion Blakey promised that her five-year term will be driven by data and hard numbers, be consistent across all FAA regions and offices and emphasize the agency’s role in international aviation.
In a show of solidarity that even FAA Administrator Jane Garvey acknowledged would have been “hard to imagine” two or three years ago, 13 aviation groups ranging from the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (Natca) to AOPA urged the Bush Administration to make aviation capacity improvements a top national priority.
The FAA could face a shortage of air traffic controllers in the next decade unless it makes more adequate plans to replace as many as 11,000 current controllers who could leave the agency by 2012, the General Accounting Office (GAO) has warned Congress. And that attrition could affect the safety of the ATC system and increase air traffic delays.