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Air Traffic Controllers Expose How FAA Failures Threaten Air Safety - (9/28/2005)

In Wake of Hurricane Katrina, New National Campaign Highlights Need for Urgent Changes at Agency

Washington, D.C.  – Announcing a major new national public education campaign, America’s air traffic controllers called on the FAA to address serious flaws that are putting the safety of the flying public at risk. Launching the “Fly Us Safe Campaign” – a television, internet and press effort – John Carr, President of the National Air Traffic Controllers’ Association, outlined how serious mismanagement was putting the safety, integrity and efficiency of America’s air traffic control system in danger.

“In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Americans everywhere have been reminded of the indispensable role federal agencies play in protecting the public and the high price of poor planning and mismanagement,” said Carr. “Now, as the nation assesses these agencies, America’s air traffic controllers are blowing the whistle on serious and dangerous mismanagement by the FAA that is threatening passenger safety.”

Unveiling a new television commercial, internet ads and press outreach, the national public education campaign will open by focusing on two serious crises facing the aviation system: an acute staffing shortage caused by FAA cutbacks and the agency’s failure to adequately modernize and improve the infrastructure of the country’s air traffic control facilities. More details about the campaign and the new television commercial can be found at the campaign’s action headquarters at www.flyussafe.com.

The staffing crisis: Air traffic is increasing to record levels, but already there are 1,000 fewer controllers than there were just two years ago. The FAA has failed to address the problem: in fiscal year 2004 only 13 air traffic controllers were hired. This crisis has been looming for years, but even though the FAA was repeatedly warned about it, the agency first ignored, and then completely mismanaged the looming crisis.

Modernization failures: The FAA’s current record of modernization is the story of slowing, cutting or derailing critical programs, seriously impacting passenger safety and wasting taxpayer dollars. The agency’s record of shame includes the cutting of a vital system allowing control over aircraft on airport tarmacs, the cancellation of the deployment of important global positioning systems and the failure to deploy next generation air/ground communications.

The “Fly Us Safe” campaign today launched with a new ad, “Dangerous Act,” that will run on nationwide television. You can view the ad at www.flyussafe.com. Web ads will run on major news, weather and aviation websites. A toll free action line at 1-877-FLY-US-SAFE will connect members of the public to their elected representatives to ask them to address serious safety concerns.

“If the FAA won’t step up to the plate to ensure safety, then America’s air traffic controllers certainly will,” said Carr, “We know the public puts an equally high priority on safety in the skies, and we’re expecting considerable support in this effort.”

For more information about America’s air traffic controllers or the “Fly Us Safe Campaign,” contact Doug Church at (202) 220-9802 or dchurch@natcadc.org.

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