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NATCA Praises Chairman Oberstar, Costello, for Passage of Crucial House FAA Reauthorization Bill - (5/21/2009)

WASHINGTON – Reprising its bold 2007 effort to provide for a safer, modernized air traffic control system, the U.S. House of Representatives today, by a 277-136 vote, passed a crucial FAA Reauthorization bill (H.R. 915) that not only paves the way for the safe implementation of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) but also addresses key issues regarding the stability of the air traffic controller workforce, the inclusion of controllers as key stakeholders in the system, the realignment of FAA facilities and controller staffing levels.

NATCA President Patrick Forrey thanked both Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar, D-Minn., and Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Jerry Costello, D-Ill., for their leadership in bringing the bill to passage, adding, “this bill is another sign of great progress as we try and modernize the system in a safe, smart, transparent and collaborative manner and institute a new and long overdue level of reform and accountability of the actions of the FAA in how it treats its responsibility to its employees, the National Airspace System and the safety of the flying public, its true customers.”              

The key points of the bill that are most important to NATCA are the following:   

PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT REFORM 

Establishes a fair process for addressing any future contract disputes, and ensures that Members of Congress are never again forced to intervene in a contract dispute between the FAA and its employees.   

AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER STAFFING STUDY 

Authorizes an impartial, third-party-conducted scientific study of the air traffic controller staffing needs for today's National Airspace System; will determine proper level of funding for air traffic control facilities across the country on the heels of an April 2009 DOT Inspector General report which warned that the FAA has not yet validated its controller staffing ranges and "therefore cannot ensure they truly represent the facilities' needs."   

REALIGNMENT OF FAA FACILITIES AND SERVICES 

Creates a transparent and inclusive process to review and evaluate FAA facility and service realignments; establishes workgroups, including employee representatives, to review and evaluate realignment proposals and present recommendations to Congress; ensures that all FAA realignment initiatives are considered in a collaborative environment and that stakeholders' concerns are addressed.   


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