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Staffing Crisis Worsens in New York, Alaska; FAA Now Offering Up to $100K Bonus to Experienced Controllers to Transfer - (6/25/2008)

CONTACT:  Dean Iacopelli, NATCA New York TRACON Facility Representative, 516-356-3983; Phil Barbarello, NATCA Eastern Regional VP, 516-381-6424; Rick Thompson, NATCA Alaskan Regional VP, 907-250-9985     

WESTBURY, N.Y. – Admitting to a worsening staffing crisis that has hurt both the safety and efficiency of the air traffic control system, the Federal Aviation Administration is now literally begging experienced controllers to fill open positions at the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) by offering up to $100,000 in relocation bonus money.

The FAA’s job vacancy announcement where the bonuses are detailed can be found here: http://jobs.faa.gov/announcement_detail.asp?vac_id=106178   

The FAA is also offering a $75,000 bonus to controllers who will transfer to Alaska; specifically to Fairbanks Tower and Anchorage TRACON. The FAA job announcements on these two facilities can be found here: http://jobs.faa.gov/announcement_detail.asp?vac_id=105787 http://jobs.faa.gov/announcement_detail.asp?vac_id=105931              

“It’s a sign of desperation that staffing is so bad at these facilities that the FAA has to offer such an outrageously high sum of money instead of negotiating a reasonable and logical solution to the mess it has created,” NATCA President Patrick Forrey said. “Our National Airspace System is a vital part of our national infrastructure and right now it is hurting badly. This negatively impacts the traveling public, from flight delays that cost our struggling economy billions of dollars, to needless risks the FAA is taking with travelers’ safety by forcing fewer controllers to handle more flights and increasing the level of controller fatigue.”              

In the past 25 months, New York TRACON has lost 13 percent of its certified controllers on staff. But the facility has not added a single certified controller since September 2006.              

There are currently 38 trainees in the facility, none of which have any previous FAA controller experience. Just a couple of years ago, the TRACON recruited almost 100 percent of its trainees from other FAA terminal facilities. This is just one example of what the DOT Inspector General reported just two weeks ago; that there is no longer a career ladder that encourages movement by experienced controllers into busier facilities, such as New York TRACON. As a result, some facilities that previously relied exclusively on transferring veteran controllers to fill vacancies have been forced to redesign their training programs to accommodate the growing numbers of inexperienced controllers.   

Interestingly, veteran controllers from other FAA facilities in the New York area, who according to NATCA New York TRACON Facility Representative Dean Iacopelli, “best understand the most complex airspace in the world,” are not eligible to receive the relocation incentive and, under current FAA pay rules, would actually lose money if they transferred to the facility. 

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