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FAA Relocation of Engineers, Other Employees Jeopardizes Safety - (3/15/2006)

CONTACT: Mike MacDonald, 978-626-0050

WASHINGTON –The Federal Aviation Administration is relocating hundreds of safety-critical jobs by squeezing nine regional offices down to three and will initiate job cuts through attrition. The announcement was not a surprise to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, which has been watching a series of reorganizations, consolidations, and overall downsizing since the creation of the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization. The first wave of attacks on FAA workers will hit in six major cities; Anchorage, Boston, Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles and New York and could involve as many as 400 employees.

In Boston, for example, the agency is planning on relocating to Atlanta the regional program manager responsible for the new Airport Surface Detection Equipment, model X radar at Logan International Airport. Meanwhile, in Chicago, the airport integration engineers and operations liaisons who will work closely with local FAA and airport authority employees to ensure timely delivery of facilities and equipment required for the expansion of O’Hare International Airport are to be relocated to Fort Worth.

Congressional opposition to the FAA’s relocation plan has been swift. Congresswoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., in a letter to FAA Administrator Marion Blakey, proclaimed, “There is no operational or fiscal justification for this transfer. This ill-advised realignment will be bad for aviation customers, bad for safety, and bad for the Los Angeles Regional Office employees.”

The agency’s actions have also prompted Congressional inquiries from Illinois and Massachusetts. The Illinois delegation believes that the move “raises serious questions about the FAA’s commitment to the success of the modernization process at O’Hare.” Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., said about the relocations, “This seems like a pennywise, but pound foolish way to cut costs at the FAA. Not only has air traffic safety been a heightened issue in our region lately, but our nation is also facing a dangerous shortage of air traffic controllers in the coming five or six years. Now is not the time to shuffle the deck and cut essential staff support.”

Said NATCA President John Carr: “Inadequate air traffic controller staffing has been a problem for years; now they are attacking jobs that include air traffic support staff, engineers, and contract officers. It is going to result in a system that is less safe, less efficient and less responsive to the needs of the National Airspace System.”

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