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FAA Administrator Attacks Her Own Workforce on Capitol Hill; Air Traffic Control Computer Outages, Serious Flight Delays Serve as Backdrop to Blakey's Misleading Statements - (3/8/2006)

WASHINGTON – FAA Administrator Marion Blakey once again made it clear yesterday that she is more focused on attacking her own employees than addressing the serious challenges facing America’s air traffic system. In testimony before the House Transportation-Treasury Appropriations Subcommittee that was slated to cover the agency’s current and future funding priorities, Blakey repeatedly misled on air traffic controller salaries while paying scant attention to the two biggest issues facing the U.S. air traffic system – technological modernization and staffing.

In an inconvenient twist that provided an embarrassing backdrop for her testimony, a massive computer failure at a New York air traffic control center caused delays and cancellations for tens of thousands of air travelers across the country. Although the Administrator has long stated publicly that the FAA’s priorities include modernization of the air traffic system’s technology, today’s computer failures and the lack of substantive attention paid to these challenges in her testimony give further cause for concern about the Administrator’s priorities.

“While New York’s air traffic controllers were struggling to deal with the FAA’s massive technological failures and the threat to the flying public, Marion Blakey was busy maligning them on Capitol Hill,” said John Carr, President of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. “It’s a sad day when the FAA Administrator chooses to attack her own employees instead of working to fix the huge technological, safety and funding challenges that face the aviation system.”

Blakey has long relied on misleading statements about air traffic controller compensation to deflect attention from her treatment of employees and her poor stewardship of the aviation system. In the past, she has used figures ranging from $104,000 to more than $200,000 – which dubiously include all forms of compensation for controllers – to lay blame for systematic shortfalls on controllers. The Administrator continued her crusade against her own employees yesterday by saying air traffic controllers are paid “$236,000.”

“For the last few months, Marion has been constantly upping the fictitious salaries she claims air traffic controllers make,” said Carr. “I’m sure America’s air traffic controllers will be delighted to learn their erroneously large salaries just got a big erroneous raise.”

More information on the FAA’s misleading statements on salaries can be found in a NATCA report “The Numbers Don’t Lie: The Truth Behind FAA Pay Claims.”

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