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FAA Manager Not Qualified to Work Tower Supervisor Position at Manchester but Does Anyway to Save Money - (4/14/2008)

CONTACT:    Mike Robicheau, 603-533-6456

MANCHESTER, N.H. – A Federal Aviation Administration manager at Manchester Tower broke FAA regulations last Thursday evening by working as an air traffic control supervisor due to a lack of staffing on the shift despite not being certified to perform those duties.

Because Manchester Tower is so tightly-staffed, any unforeseen event can trigger a problem in terms of having enough controllers, supervisors and/or controllers handling supervisory duties to safely operate the facility. On Thursday, all it took was one controller calling in sick to force the manager into a situation where he elected to break FAA regulations governing the proper training and certification needed to supervise the tower rather than spend the money to bring in a qualified employee on overtime.

While there were no runway incursions or other safety incidents during the time the manager supervised the tower, NATCA New England Regional Vice President Mike Robicheau said the episode was further proof that the FAA continues to cover up staffing failures of its own making and, therefore, places the traveling public at greater risk by circumventing rules designed to ensure the maximum level of safety.

“This was like leaving your two young children alone in the house for an hour while you went to the store,” Robicheau said. “The chances are good that nothing bad is going to happen while you’re gone, but it’s against the rules, unwise, unsafe and needlessly introduces an element of risk instead of doing the right thing. In this case, the right thing is for the FAA to admit it cannot properly staff the system and stop cutting corners and breaking regulations in order to cover up its management failures.”

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