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Statement by National Air Traffic Controllers Association President John Carr on House Appropriations Committee Action on Staffing - (7/22/2004)

Commenting on the House Appropriations Committee's Funding $9 Million for the Hiring and Training of Air Traffic Controllers

The House Appropriations Committee today has moved the ball forward in providing much needed funding for hiring and training new air traffic controllers, but we've only gotten to the 20 yard line. Both the General Accounting Office and the Federal Aviation Administration have stated that the system is on the verge of a staffing crisis, with thousands of controllers eligible to retire in the coming years. We need more eyes on the skies, and while the House Committee took a first step towards this goal today, more work needs to be done.

It is now up to the Senate to ensure that our air traffic control system continues to be the envy of the world. Considering that it takes up to five years to train new controllers, and that the existing workforce is used to conduct on-the-job training for new hires, the time to act is now. Failure to do so will mean congestions, delays and, yes, real safety concerns.

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