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Statement: NATCA President John Carr on Congressional Action on Air Traffic Controller Staffing Shortage - (9/14/2004)

As public servants, air traffic controllers across the country have been alerting the public and our elected officials to the looming staffing crisis. We know first hand the serious problems associated with shortages – delays, congestion and decreased margins of safety. And we also know that it takes up to five years to train a controller to meet the demands of the job – and not everyone makes the cut.

That’s why we are pleased that Congress has begun to address this critical staffing need. Today, the Senate Appropriations Committee and the full House are considering the approval of funds to get this hiring and training started. Let me be clear: the amount proposed by both the House and the Senate is a welcome start, but we have a long road ahead if we are to make sure that we have sufficient eyes watching our skies. And rest assured that air traffic controllers will continue to fight for needed funding to keep our skies safe. With both the FAA and GAO stating that there will be up to a 50 percent shortage in the next decade, we must remain vigilant in our efforts to keep staffing on Congress’ radar screen. Failure to address this shortage translates into fewer people landing our planes. And that’s not a situation any of us want to see happen.

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