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Controllers Claim Managers' Congressional Testimony Blatantly Mischaracterizes FAA's Successful Safety Initiatives - (3/28/2001)

WASHINGTON – The National Air Traffic Controllers Association is harshly criticizing testimony given today by the Federal Aviation Administration Conference of the Federal Managers Association to the House Appropriations Transportation Subcommittee as both incorrect and misleading.

The FMA is testifying that insufficient management and supervisory oversight could compromise the margin of safety in our nation’s air traffic control system. In addition, the FMA argues that the 10-1 ratio of controllers to supervisors is arbitrary and has had a detrimental effect on operations, including increases in delays as well as safety factors such as runway incursions, surface incidents, operational deviations and operational errors. NATCA strongly disputes this theory.

“It is sad and unfortunate to see an organization like the FMA mischaracterize the FAA’s successes for its own selfish agenda,” NATCA President John Carr said.

NATCA has worked hard with the FAA to develop the current practice of using controllers in charge (CIC) as a way of supplementing supervisory oversight and boosting productivity and workforce morale while increasing the margin of safety in the system. The CIC program, which is fully supported by the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General, has yielded many positive results, especially in the area of operational errors. Consider:

? In fiscal year 2000, there were 1,145 operational errors recorded. Of those, 1,033 occurred when a supervisor was in charge but only 112 occurred under the CIC program.

? Thus far in fiscal year 2001, there have been 522 operational errors; 481 when a supervisor was in charge but only 41 when a CIC was in control.

NATCA believes the CIC program takes full advantage of the array of qualifications exhibited by its controllers. Supervisors are required to work an air traffic control position for only eight hours each month to retain their controller license and are not required to be qualified on each of the many different positions in a facility. Conversely, CICs must be “checked out” on all positions, thus that controller has a better operational understanding than the supervisor.

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