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Controller in Charge Agreement Promotes Safety, Efficiency - (3/16/2000)

WASHINGTON–The National Air Traffic Controllers Association is at odds with a managers’ organization, singularly interested in preserving outdated and illogical staffing policies. The Federal Aviation Administration’s innovative "controller-in-charge" program is under fire from the Federal Managers Association.

The CIC program, which allows a specially trained air traffic controller to act in a supervisory role, was designed to provide cost savings for the agency by reducing the number of supervisors from a ratio of six to one to 10 to one. Currently, CICs are used when a supervisor is not available for a shift or is temporarily called away from the operations environment.

"The CIC position has been in existence for over 40 years and its safety was never called into question prior to this labor/management agreement," said NATCA President Mike McNally. "Unfortunately, FMA thinks it’s acceptable to reduce the number of controllers while increasing supervisors and other non-controller positions, as has been customary in the past. All we have done with this agreement is increase the productivity of controllers, while maintaining the same level of safety."

When the reduction in supervisory staff was proposed, the Department of Transportation Office of the Inspector General thoroughly investigated the program for possible safety risks. The report plainly concluded, "The FAA’s agreement to reduce the number of air traffic control supervisors will not have an adverse impact on the safety of air traffic operations."

"The sole function of an air traffic controller is to protect the safety of the flying public," said NATCA Executive Vice President Randy Schwitz. "We would never support a program that would jeopardize safety in any way. CICs are specially trained and monitored to perform most supervisory functions when necessary."

The FAA stated the program would place it in compliance with the National Performance Review goal to increase the employee to supervisor ratio. Additionally, the agency will achieve its target ratio because the FAA is expecting to lose approximately 600 supervisors through attrition.

FMA President Michael B. Styles threatened his organization would ask Congress to halt the FAA’s planned implementation of the program, even in light of the inspector general’s findings.


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