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FAA Compromises Safety and Service in San Juan to Save $120 - (12/16/2005)

CONTACT: Jerry Nash, 787/407.5554


SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Federal Aviation Administration managers at the San Juan, Puerto Rico air traffic control center on Thursday failed to adequately staff the busy Caribbean facility in order to save the $120 it would have cost to bring in an extra controller for a two-hour overtime period.

During one of the busiest periods of the day, the FAA combined the entire en route operations to a single radarscope with only one controller and an assistant to watch and control more than 50 aircraft for over an hour. The FAA chose money over safety in not providing an extra controller to assist the overworked controllers. However, the agency made sure there were three supervisors assigned to watch the two controllers, the continuation of a dangerous national trend where more supervisors than ever are watching fewer controllers than ever work more and more traffic.

When confronted with the safety issues involved in this action, the facility’s operations manager explained to Jerry Nash, facility representative for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, “We’ve put in departure restrictions to help out.”

Said Nash: “So while the airlines are struggling to break even, the FAA penalizes them and spends untold commercial aviation dollars to save the government $120.”

San Juan Center controls more than 250,000 square miles of airspace over the Caribbean and South Atlantic.


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