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NATCA Supports Facility Realignments, But Only If Safety, Efficiency and Services Are Improved - (5/31/2012)

CONTACT: Sarah Dunn, 202-220-9813

WASHINGTON – National Air Traffic Controllers Association President Paul Rinaldi reaffirmed the organization’s commitment to a collaborative relationship with the FAA and modernization of the National Airspace System (NAS) during testimony before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation on Thursday.

While Rinaldi emphasized the collaborative relationship, he stressed to the Subcommittee that facility realignments must be part of a comprehensive plan and must be accomplished with inclusion of the agency’s frontline workforce and without compromising safety and efficiency, reducing services or increasing the cost of the NAS.

“It is NATCA’s position that realignments should be implemented only when the realignment has a clear objective, quantifiable efficiency gains and a sound business case evaluating each proposal,” said Rinaldi. “While realignment may play a role in modernizing facilities with NextGen capabilities, realignments and automation upgrades are two separate issues. Automation systems can be housed in any type of building whether they have been realigned or not.”

Rinaldi continued: “NATCA is committed to collaboratively working with the FAA to ensure safety and efficiency of the NAS. We recognize the current FAA leadership has made a commitment to collaborative effort in the planning, development and implementation of safety and technology programs, and NATCA has seen the FAA make progress in numerous areas, but there are specific items where NATCA recommends more movement.”

Rinaldi’s full written testimony to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation, on the subject of, “FAA’s Efforts to Reduce Costs and Ensure Safety and Efficiency Through Realignment and Consolidation," is available HERE.

Other highlights from Rinaldi’s testimony:

-“In the past, the FAA unilaterally identified and implemented realignments. Those actions did not produce its stated objectives. Moving forward, stakeholders must be involved in each decision to realign facilities under a comprehensive plan. Stakeholders can offer their expertise in, among other things, data analysis, which may or may not lead to the conclusion that realignment is the correct way to proceed, but will always lead to the best outcome for the flying public and the American taxpayer.”

-“The FAA must develop a strategic approach to realignments that examines the entire system and the operational efficiency of existing and planned airspace. The NAS cannot be altered as a patchwork of systems that are built independently.”

-“The FAA must establish transparent metrics to determine the success or failure of realignments. The agency must consistently conduct post-consolidation business analysis using repeatable metrics, and publicly report the outcome of these analyses.”

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The National Air Traffic Controllers Association represents over 20,000 highly skilled air traffic controllers, engineers and other safety-related professionals.

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