1997  |  1998  |  1999  |  2000  |  2001  |  2002  |  2003  |  2004  |  2005  |  2006  |  2007  |  2008  |  2009  |  2010  |  2011  |  2012  |  2013  |  2014  |  2015

Controllers Warn House Aviation Subcommittee: Looming Staffing Crisis Could Result in Delays, Congestion, Safety Concerns - (6/15/2004)

WASHINGTON – National Air Traffic Controllers Association Executive Vice President Ruth Marlin told the House Aviation Subcommittee today of the urgent need to begin funding the hiring of new controllers in the fiscal year 2005 budget to address a looming shortage nationwide, warning there is “no other way around this problem. The consequences of inaction are dire.”

“Without adequate numbers of certified controllers we cannot increase system capacity and safely meet the needs of our nation’s travelers – instead we will see increasing delays and operational errors,” Marlin said, adding that the shortage affects more than the daily operation of the system. “It jeopardizes the future of the system and America’s leadership role in world aviation. We simply will not have the resources available to modernize equipment, redesign airspace and update our standards.”

Addressing a Department of Transportation Inspector General report last week on the need to plan more precisely in the hiring, training and placement of new controllers in the system, Marlin said she agreed on the importance of these issues. However, she added, “we cannot delay hiring while these plans are developed. We need to move forward to bring new controllers into the system, allowing us to fill known vacancies while we develop better plans to identify future vacancies. NATCA is eager to assist the agency in refining the process.”

Using its own controller attrition simulation model, the General Accounting Office projects that nearly 7,500 controllers will leave the workforce by 2011 – that’s 50 percent of the current total number of controllers. In the Federal Aviation Administration’s own projection, 450 controllers will retire this year. A total of 2,181 will retire in the next three years.

“What we need is action, now,” Marlin stated. “NATCA is prepared to work with the FAA and Congress to address this crisis before it becomes insurmountable. We have identified real solutions that can make a real difference. However, we all need to recognize that the first and most important priority is to provide funding to hire more controllers. We can no longer wait. For many locations, we have waited too long already.”

“This problem is not sudden or unexpected,” she continued. “It is known and we have had advance warning. Whether or not we address the problem and prevent our aviation infrastructure from collapsing under its own weight is a choice. Either we will continue to be a world leader in aviation, or we will not. My members will continue to do everything possible to keep our collective heads above water, but it is Congress and the administration that can send us a lifeboat.”

Show All News Headlines