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FAA Admits Relationship between Shortstaffing at Key L.A. Radar Facility and Delays for Aircraft into LAX - (7/19/2007)

CONTACT: Garth Koleszar, NATCA Facility Representative, Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center; 661-265-8206 or cell, 909-725-1908; gkoleszar@natca.net

PALMDALE, Calif. – The Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center is a “critically staffed facility,” according to a Federal Aviation Administration Traffic Management update last month and, as a result, flights are being delayed and operational errors are increasing.

Los Angeles Center which is one of the nation’s worst staffed air traffic facilities has been experiencing close calls or operational errors at an alarming rate of nearly one a week”, said Garth Koleszar L.A. Center facility representative for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. 

In a recent FAA newsletter originating at Denver Center, entitled, “Traffic Management Update,” the FAA admits that it does not “have the luxury of doubling up” staffing at busy sectors at L.A. Center. Under normal circumstances, an air traffic sector would be staffed by a minimum of two controllers and sometimes even three controllers based on traffic complexity and volume. “Air traffic controllers are trained and directed to limit flights through their airspace when the volume of the traffic exceeds a safe limit,” Koleszar said. 

In fact, the FAA has stated in published staffing reports that if it cannot adequately staff a facility, it would delay flights rather than negatively impact the margin of safety. 

The FAA newsletter states that aircraft are delayed due to miles in trail restrictions (MIT) since the Los Angeles Center lacks the ability to staff busy air traffic sectors with two air traffic controllers. 

“Unfortunately, the delays documented in this FAA newsletter will only get worse. New trainees are resigning and seasoned controllers are retiring or being taken from their controller jobs to fill FAA supervisor positions at a rate far greater than the FAA’s ability to hire and train replacements,” Koleszar said.  

To view the entire Traffic Management Update newsletter, click here.

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