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NATCA, FAA Reach Historic Agreement for Collaborative Process to Accurately and Transparently Determine ATC Staffing Needs

Brothers and Sisters:

We are pleased to announce that NATCA and the FAA have agreed to significantly deepen our collaborative efforts to determine ATC staffing needs. For the first time in NATCA/FAA’s collaborative history, the FAA has committed to utilizing the staffing numbers determined by the Collaborative Resource Workgroup (CRWG) in its annual reporting to Congress thereby ensuring accuracy and transparency of controller staffing.

With this agreement the CRWG will conduct a facility-by-facility survey of our controller staffing to determine operational staffing needs. Upon completion of this process, a report will be submitted to the FAA Administrator and the NATCA president for approval. Once approved, each facility’s CRWG CPC staffing targets, current number of CPCs actually on board, and the current number of ATCS in training actually on board will be used in the 2023-32 Controller Workforce Plan (CWP), and subsequent CWPs will be shared with the DOT and disseminated to Congress as required by law.

As you know, current operational staffing targets, which were developed in 2014, are used in the Priority Placement Tool to determine new hire placement and transfer eligibility and release date windows. The agreement to include the collaboratively developed CPC staffing targets in the CWP is a monumental step forward for our Union and the Agency and will ensure that Congress, the aviation community, and the public have a clear understanding of our current and future staffing levels.

It has been a challenging year for everyone involved in aviation. There have been many thousands of commercial flight cancellations and delays affecting hundreds of thousands of passengers across the country. Although factors like severe weather and airline operational issues contributed to these disruptions, air traffic controller staffing shortages were also a contributing factor. This new process will be the first step in returning air traffic controllers’ staffing to an appropriate level at each facility nationwide. Appropriate staffing levels are vital to improve the efficiency of our National Airspace System.

In recent weeks, we have published two articles in a series about controller staffing. Those articles provided some historical context for how we got here and what NATCA is doing to resolve these issues. If you missed these articles, you may read them here and here. The next article in this series will be published in coming weeks and will explain in greater detail why this agreement will help us resolve many of the staffing issues our Union has faced.

We will be working over the course of the next few months to implement this agreement, but today, we should take a moment to celebrate this achievement.

We’d like to thank the NATCA members and staff who have been working on staffing issues over the past decade, particularly those who helped bring this agreement to completion. Their commitment to the solidarity of our Union and collaboration with the Agency is remarkable.

We’d also like to thank Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, Deputy Secretary of Transportation Polly Trottenberg, and Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen for their steadfast commitment to a process that will accurately and transparently determine air traffic controller staffing needs going forward.

We didn’t do this alone. The commercial airline industry, airport leaders, air cargo, and our brothers and sisters in unions representing other aviation professionals all conveyed their support for NATCA’s objectives to the FAA and DOT as we worked toward this agreement.

Members with questions should contact their regional leadership.

In Solidarity,

Rich Santa, NATCA President

Andrew LeBovidge, Executive Vice President

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