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Stable Funding Protects ATC Modernization Programs, Safety - (10/2/2000)

WASHINGTON—In today’s testimony before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, National Air Traffic Controllers Association President Michael McNally stressed the need for Congress to commit steady funding to ensure the safety and efficiency of the nation’s air traffic control system.

NATCA supports full funding of the administration’s FY2001 budget request for the Federal Aviation Administration. The funds are necessary to continue the successful modernization programs that will allow the nation’s air traffic system to face the challenges of the 21st century.

“We are at a critical point in the modernization process,” said McNally. “For the first time, a positive relationship between the union and management has blossomed and helped make troubled programs like the display system replacement and standard terminal automation replacement system successful. The need for a multi-year, multi-step commitment to ATC modernization with continuous funding must remain a top priority.”
Inconsistent and inadequate funding could also lead to further privatizing air traffic control services. As it stands now, safety of the flying public is the sole concern of air traffic controllers employed by the FAA. If the system is sold off to the lowest bidder, profits, not safety will be the main concern of the new contractors.

“Selective or piecemeal privatization, as we have seen in the contract tower program, will further erode the homogenous management and seamless nature of the system,” McNally said. “Private contractors do not provide the same training, equipment or staffing levels as the FAA, which prevents them from providing equitable service and can compromise safety.”

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