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Controllers Extremely Concerned about Security at FAA Air Traffic Control Facilities Nationwide - (10/16/2001)

WASHINGTON - As the nation continues to hear the FBI’s calls for extra vigilance in security and a heightened state of alert, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association is extremely concerned the Federal Aviation Administration is not doing enough to protect air traffic control towers and radar facilities.

NATCA President John Carr said 180 of the 325 FAA control facilities nationwide do not have adequate security measures in place. Carr is asking for armed guards at all facilities. “It is vitally important that the FAA make extra efforts to guard air traffic control facilities because our national security is at stake,” Carr stated. “We want to ensure everything possible is done to protect our responsibility to oversee the National Airspace System.”

Air traffic controllers play a key role in both national security and homeland defense by maintaining a continuous radar watch over the entire United States. Controllers are tasked with monitoring key sites and protecting both civilian and military installations. Additionally, tower controllers are poised to report suspicious activity at airports across the country in the wake of recent terrorist threats. "Air traffic controllers function as front-line troops in the domestic war against terrorism,” Carr remarked. “While the president and Congress debate airline security, it is critical that air traffic control facilities receive immediate full-time security protection."

In addition to armed guards, Carr believes the FAA employee identification cards worn by controllers on duty are inadequate and in need of redesign to reduce the chances of tampering or duplication. Most of all, Carr added, he would like the FAA to have a sense of urgency where security is concerned at its facilities. “The agency is moving too slowly for us,” Carr said. “Our most pressing concern in this country right now is security and certainly the FBI has asked all of us to be more aware as we continue to hear threats of more hijackings and further attacks. Controllers are working extremely hard to maintain the safety and security of the system and we are maintaining strict vigilance over the key areas of our country where terrorism could pose a threat. “I’d like for our controllers to feel much more secure doing their jobs. They should be watching their radar scopes, not watching their backs.”

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