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Air Traffic Controllers Fare Well in Nationwide Poll - (1/11/1999)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Air traffic controllers are valued for their role in aviation safety and their work – believed to be more stressful than the typical job, according to an Opinion Dynamics nationwide survey taken Oct. 28 and 29, 1998. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association commissioned the poll.

The survey shows the public today has a positive and sympathetic view of the nation’s air traffic controllers. Almost 80 percent of all residents believe air traffic controllers do a good or excellent job. Seventy-two percent of the public has a favorable view of controllers, while only five percent have an unfavorable view. Eighty-five percent of the public believes air traffic controllers’ work is more stressful than the average occupation.

One explanation for this perception of stress may come from the fact that over half (51 percent) of all respondents believe controllers work with inadequate and outdated equipment, with only 24 percent of the public viewing ATC equipment as the best available. When asked whether they would be willing to pay an additional dollar on airline tickets if it went to upgrade air traffic control equipment, 81 percent of respondents answered "yes," with nine percent not willing.

Respondents were given three options characterizing the work of air traffic controllers, and were asked to select the correct job description. Sixty-nine percent understood controllers direct aircraft from takeoff to landing, airport to airport. Nine hundred U.S. residents were surveyed randomly, with 52 percent women and 48 percent men aged between 18 to 50 years and incomes most often over $25,000.

"It is phenomenal that the public is so knowledgeable about a relatively small workforce – only 15,000 out of millions of U.S. employees," said NATCA President Mike McNally. "NATCA has worked diligently over the past years to keep our citizens and tax payers informed, particularly through the media. If NATCA believes the air traffic control system jeopardizes safety, we raise our hand. It is no secret that controllers put safety first – well above a popular penny-wise, pound-foolish mentality."

NATCA represents air traffic controllers and engineers employed by the Federal Aviation Administration, as well as by the Department of Defense and civilian companies.

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