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NATCA Calls for Implementation of Joint NATCA-FAA Fatigue Recommendations - (4/22/2011)

CONTACT: Doug Church, 301-346-8245

WASHINGTON – Statement from NATCA President Paul Rinaldi:

“Last week we began an open and honest dialogue with our members about recent incidents and the reminder to always uphold the high standard of professionalism and commitment to safety the public expects. Our members take seriously the personal responsibility each of them has to act appropriately and keep the flying public safe.  I know we will win back the trust and confidence of the flying public.

“During our tour, we discussed at length the largest underlying problem that contributed to the majority of recent events: fatigue. For more than a decade NATCA has expressed its deep concerns about increasing controller fatigue. Our national constitution calls for the ending of single staffing on the midnight shift and for years we have lobbied past Administrations and Congresses on the need to find solutions to controller fatigue before it is too late.

“We support the FAA’s recent action to eliminate single staffing on the midnight shift. These changes, however, barely scratch the surface of the problem.

“The work of the joint NATCA-FAA fatigue workgroup over the past 18 months has produced 12 recommendations based on established scientific research and data and health practices. There is nothing groundbreaking about these recommendations. They are common sense solutions to a problem NATCA and fatigue experts have consistently raised for years while past Administrations turned a blind eye. The recommendations are based on advice from NASA and the military and in line with international air traffic control best practices. If we are serious about addressing controller fatigue, then every recommendation must be adopted and implemented.

“Congress must also finally pass the FAA Reauthorization, which is now in its 18th extension. This legislation includes a number of provisions addressing fatigue.

“Here’s the bottom line: It is safe to fly. It has never been safer to fly. Just this week, the NTSB announced that the safety of the system had improved in 2010, with no fatal accidents recorded on commercial flights. Air traffic controllers safely oversee 70,000 flights a day and run the safest, most efficient National Airspace System in the world. You are safer riding on an airplane in this country than riding an escalator.

“Air traffic controllers are committed to doing their part to ensure safety and fix the problem.”


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