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Rich Santa Thanks U.S. House of Representatives for Passage of Bi-Partisan FAA Reauthorization Bill 

NATCA President Testifies Before Subcommittee on Aviation that Staffing Targets, Maximum Hiring, and Modernization Must be Top Priorities to Reduce Risk in the National Airspace System 

(WASHINGTON) – Today, National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) President Rich Santa thanked the members of the U.S. House of Representatives for overwhelmingly passing a long-term, comprehensive Federal Administration Aviation (FAA) reauthorization bill that requires the FAA to use the Collaborative Resources Workgroup (CRWG) staffing figures during his testimony before the House Subcommittee on Aviation.  

The hearing, “Turbulence Ahead: Consequences of Delaying a Long-Term FAA Bill,” brought together stakeholders from labor and the aviation industry to offer their testimony before the subcommittee. Santa spoke at length on the challenges that face air traffic controllers and NATCA’s views on how to best address them in both the short and long-term. In his opening remarks, Santa made a point to applaud the House’s commitment to addressing the staffing crisis by passing FAA reauthorization legislation requiring the FAA to base its Controller Workforce Plan on the Collaborative Resource Workgroup’s (CRWG) staffing targets. The CRWG is a joint workgroup comprised of the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization and NATCA, whose work was verified and validated by the MITRE Corporation.  

“The National Air Traffic Controllers Association is extremely pleased that the House has already taken the most important action it can for the safety of the National Airspace System (NAS) by passing a long-term, comprehensive FAA reauthorization bill by an overwhelming bi-partisan majority that directly addresses key aspects of air traffic controller staffing – including requiring the FAA to use the Collaborative Resources Workgroup as the basis for its Controller Workforce Plan and to maximize controller hiring for the duration of the bill,” Santa said.  

Santa testified that there are approximately 1,000 fewer Certified Professional Controllers than there were a decade ago, creating a staffing crisis that must be addressed by the FAA. The controller staffing shortage has led to the FAA implementing mandatory overtime to cover chronically short-staffed facilities. More than 40 percent of air traffic controllers regularly work six-day workweeks. To address this shortage, Santa stated that the FAA must adopt the updated and more accurate operational staffing targets developed by the CRWG. 

“The new CRWG staffing targets need to be used as the basis for FAA’s annual Controller Workforce Plan moving forward, so that Congress and the aviation industry have a complete and accurate understanding of the health of ATC staffing and the requirements of the NAS,” Santa stated.  

Santa also called on the FAA to increase its funding request to Congress for its Facilities and Equipment (F&E) Budget. Congress has always met the Agency’s stated need, but the FAA has consistently requested less than it needs. It hasn’t even adjusted for inflation. Failure to increase F&E funding will continue to prevent the agency from meeting its equipment sustainment, repair, replacement, and modernization needs. 

“Utilizing a “fix on fail” model has led to the FAA’s inability to maintain and replace critical safety equipment that has exceeded its expected life, introducing unnecessary risks into the system,” Santa said. “The failure of the U.S. NOTAMS System earlier this year was a glaring example of this risk. FAA’s funding requests have delayed the FAA from designing and implementing new technologies to improve safety, such as an airport surface surveillance situational awareness tool to address runway incursions—a top safety concern.” 

FOR MORE INFORMATION:  

Galen Munroe, Deputy Director of Public Affairs; 202-220-9802, gmunroe@natca.org. 

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The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) is a labor union and aviation safety organization in the United States that represents nearly 20,000 highly skilled air traffic controllers, engineers, and other aviation safety-related professionals. NATCA was certified in 1987 by the Federal Labor Relations Authority to be the exclusive bargaining representative for air traffic controllers employed by the Federal Aviation Administration. Today, NATCA is one of the strongest labor unions in the federal sector and represents a range of aviation safety professionals in 15 FAA bargaining units, five Department of Defense air traffic facilities, and 123 federal contract towers. These air traffic controllers and other aviation safety professionals make vital contributions to the U.S. economy and make modern life possible by coordinating the safe, orderly, and expeditious movement of one billion aviation passengers and millions of tons of freight within the National Airspace System each year. NATCA is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and is affiliated with the AFL-CIO. 

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