WASHINGTON – The National Air Traffic Controllers Association today joins the state of New Jersey and the nation in mourning the loss of Senator Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. Senator Lautenberg was a true champion of aviation safety and a tireless advocate for the rights of travelers and the aviation safety professionals who work in our National Airspace System.
“NATCA has been proud and honored to have worked with Senator Lautenberg throughout our 26-year history on so many issues critical to aviation safety,” NATCA President Paul Rinaldi said. “He will always have a special place in the memories of the air traffic controllers and safety professionals represented by NATCA as someone who fought hard for them and their rights. His work through legislation and Congressional hearings helped make our National Airspace System the world’s safest and most efficient.”
In 2006, NATCA saluted Lautenberg with its highest honor for those outside the organization - the “Sentinel of Safety” award – for displaying outstanding achievement in the advancement of aviation safety and whose leadership on safety issues has been historic, aggressive and courageous.
Lautenberg always made aviation safety a priority. Among his accomplishments when he returned to the Senate in 2002 were: authored the Lautenberg Runway Safety Law in 2005 which addressed runway safety areas at over 280 commercial airports across the U.S.; authored legislation in 2003 to maintain safe controller staffing levels by preventing the outsourcing of more than five dozen U.S. air traffic control facilities and called for hearings on a proposal to slash funding for the air traffic control system while calling for a tripling of the system’s capacity. His most notable advocacy on behalf of the current air traffic controller workforce was in 2006 through 2008, when he helped lead efforts in the Senate to fight for fair collective bargaining rights for controllers.
“Senator Lautenberg was committed to safe staffing, safe air traffic control equipment and safe working conditions,” NATCA Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert said. “Whether it was his numerous visits to New Jersey air traffic control facilities or the FAA Technical Center outside Atlantic City, he was always very interested in air traffic control and in the people who make the system work. He was a great leader and a kind, caring man. He will be missed.”