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NATCA Honors Its Members during National Engineers Week - (2/24/2011)

CONTACT: Doug Church, 301-346-8245, dchurch@natcadc.org

WASHINGTON – They are responsible for the design, construction and remodeling of air traffic control facilities and equipment. They handle the integration of new systems into the operational National Airspace System (NAS). And they can even rise to the occasion in an urgent situation; such as 10 years ago next week when they helped restore services to Sea-Tac International Airport’s air traffic control facilities after a powerful earthquake severely damaged the tower.

They are Federal Aviation Administration engineers and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) proudly represents them. This week, NATCA stands in appreciation of their professionalism and service to aviation safety as we join in the celebration of National Engineers Week.

“In an environment where public employees are being repeatedly vilified, this is a perfect time to recognize our engineers who are dedicated and professional stewards of public safety and help keep our airspace the safest and most efficient in the world,” said NATCA Regional Vice President Mike MacDonald, who represents most of the organization’s non-air traffic controller bargaining units, called “Region X.” “FAA engineers are part of the behind-the-scenes work that takes place 24/7 to keep the flying public safe. Whether it’s aircraft inspection and certification or runway improvements and construction oversight, NATCA’s engineering bargaining unit members are a vital part of what makes the system work effectively.”

NATCA represents nearly 2,000 engineers who work in four different bargaining units. About 1,300 of these FAA employees comprise the largest of the four units, the Engineers and Architects bargaining unit. Also included in this group are the Safety and Operations Support Group, whose engineers are responsible for developing modifications and maintenance procedures for NAS equipment, providing national-level field support and maintaining the configuration management of the NAS. One additional group is called Aviation System Standards. These engineers provide modification and maintenance instructions for the fleet of flight inspection aircraft.

Approximately 500 other engineers work in the Aircraft Certification unit. These professionals are tasked with not only certifying aircraft but also investigating accidents in order to ensure the safety of all certified aircraft in service. An additional 118 employees make up the Airports engineers program that is responsible for a wide array of tasks including the approval of airport improvements, the implementation of new programs and the oversight of development projects. There are also a small number of engineers located in our En Route and Terminal Automation bargaining unit. The primary function of these engineers is to provide operational computer software support and maintenance for en route centers and terminal environments.

Said NATCA President Paul Rinaldi: “We are enormously grateful for the contributions that our engineer bargaining unit members make to the outstanding safety record we have worked hard to maintain. This week, we salute our engineers and remind ourselves how valuable it is to have them in the NATCA family of safety professionals. We all stand together and work together for the safety of the system.”

Of particular note this week is the work done by engineers in the Pacific Northwest after a magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck on Feb. 28, 2001. Within a day of the quake, engineers had a temporary air traffic control tower fully operational, even perched atop a shipping container to give controllers a better view of the runways and airport surface.

For more information about Engineers Week, click here to go to the National Engineers Week Foundation Web site: http://www.eweek.org/Home.aspx.


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