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Statement by NATCA President John Carr Commenting on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Action on the Hiring and Training of Air Traffic Controllers - (9/10/2004)

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury and General Government has moved the ball forward in providing much needed funding for hiring and training new air traffic controllers. NATCA applauds the leadership and support of Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., in getting $10 million into the Senate bill.

However, this is just a beginning if we really want to address the staffing crisis facing our air traffic control system. With both the Government Accountability Office and the Federal Aviation Administration saying that 50 percent of the workforce will retire within the next 10 years, it will be up to Congress to start funding now and keep moving the process forward next year.

While we are pleased that both the House and Senate Committees have taken action to address this problem, we will not rest until we have enough eyes watching our skies. We hope the House and Senate approve this funding and work to continue providing resources to hire and train controllers in the coming years. Considering that it takes up to five years to train new controllers and that the existing workforce is used to conduct on-the-job training, this is not a problem that is going to go away. Failure to act will mean congestion, delays and, yes, real safety concerns.

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