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From the Desk of President Rich Santa Congressional Hearings: An Invaluable Platform to Advocate for Our Issues

This past month, I had honor and privilege of testifying on behalf of NATCA at hearings in front of subcommittees in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. These official interactions with members of Congress who provide oversight of the Federal Aviation Administration are an invaluable opportunity to advocate for our issues with key decisionmakers in a public forum.

In both hearings, the members of Congress, representatives and senators alike, overwhelmingly expressed their support for our members, especially referencing those who are required to work mandatory overtime because of the staffing crisis. They also committed to finding solutions to solve the crisis.  

These hearings built upon the great work our member activists, our National Legislative Committee, and NATCA’s staff to advocate for our Union in the halls of Congress. The conversations NATCA members have directly with members of Congress and their staffs are critical to enacting the real change that will improve the lives of every aviation safety professional.

Without these efforts, FAA Reauthorization bills that address the staffing crisis would not exist in both the House and Senate. Both call for the adoption of the Collaborative Resources Workgroup (CRWG) staffing targets in the FAA’s annual Controller Workforce Plan (CWP).

The House bill (H.R. 3935) also includes maximum hiring of air traffic controller trainees throughout the duration of the bill. NATCA applauds the Senate Commerce Committee for including in the Senate bill (S. 1939) key enhancements to controller training, both by requiring the FAA to have tower simulator systems for each tower and by expansion of the FAA’s training academy capacity, something that serves as a bottleneck in the current hiring and training process.

It is our hope that by continuing to advocate directly with members of Congress and raising awareness of NATCA’s issues in public forums like these Congressional hearings, actionable and realistic solutions to the staffing shortage will be passed into law.

In Solidarity,

Rich Santa
President, National Air Traffic Controllers Association

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