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Controller Staffing Crisis: Total At 27-Year Low


The number of fully certified air traffic controllers, already at a 27-year low, fell again in the first three months of 2016. Among its recommendations, NATCA is calling on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to increase annual hiring totals and is advocating for stable, predictable funding for the FAA, including ensuring that the FAA is not subject to future sequester cuts.

Controller staffing levels have fallen nearly 10 percent since 2011, and the FAA has missed its hiring goals in each of the last seven years. In fact, in fiscal year 2015, the FAA fell 24 percent short of its hiring goal. More controllers are eligible to retire today, specifically one-quarter of the workforce, than are in the pipeline to replace them.

The Need for Stable, Predictable Funding


An extension to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorization now runs through September 2017. Bipartisan Congressional majorities approved the legislation and President Obama signed it in mid-July. Unfortunately, this legislation does not provide the long-term funding certainty our National Airspace System (NAS) needs. It does, however, contain important provisions that would streamline the hiring process for controllers, an important step considering the current hiring crisis impacting the air traffic control workforce.

While NATCA considers the extension a good start that provides certainty through the end of the current fiscal year, our preference is for a full, long-term reauthorization with stable, predictable funding that ends both sequestration and the stop-and-go funding that has harmed the NAS.

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