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NATCA President Testifies on FAA Reauthorization Act of 2009 - (2/11/2009)

CONTACTS:  NATCA National Office, Alexandra Caldwell, 202-220-9813, acaldwell@natcadc.org

WASHINGTON – NATCA President Patrick Forrey testified today in front of the House’s Aviation Subcommittee on the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2009, H.R. 915.

NATCA fully supports and endorses the provisions of H.R. 915, as it nullifies the imposed work rules the FAA unilaterally imposed on the controller workforce in September 2006.  NATCA thanks House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar, D-Minn., and House Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Jerry Costello, D-Ill. 

Said Forrey:  “These aviation champions led the charge for the passage of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2007 (H.R. 2881) in September 2007 and also introduced this legislation at the first opportunity in this Congressional session.  I thank them, and the entire committee, for the commitment they have demonstrated time after time to the safety of the flying public.”

In the two fiscal years following the imposed work rules over 3,300 air traffic controllers left the FAA workforce through attrition.  Of those that left, less than two percent had reached the mandatory retirement age of 56.  Ninety-eight percent left the FAA before mandatory retirement.

The legislation of H.R. 915 also includes language that could finally send NATCA and the FAA back to the table to finish work on a new collective bargaining agreement – this time amending Title 49 to allow for, in the event of a bargaining impasse, the proposals to go through mediation and ultimately binding arbitration – thus putting a stop to the record wave of controller attrition the country has seen in the last three years by preventing the FAA from imposing work rules on the controller workforce again.

Forrey testified today, “The effects of the imposed work rules have been devastating, not only to the working lives of controllers but to the safety and integrity of the National Airspace System.  As a direct result of the imposed work and pay rules, air traffic controllers began a mass exodus from the FAA.  We have seen an unprecedented number of retirements and resignations within the workforce.

“The vast majority of those that left did so not because they reached their mandatory retirement age, but simply because they’d had enough.  Since the imposed work and pay rules were unilaterally implemented, we have lost more than 46,000 years of experience.”

To make up for these devastating losses the FAA has clogged the system with trainees.  Now nearly one third of the air traffic controllers in the FAA have less than five years of experience, and 40 air traffic control facilities have more than half of its workforce composed of individuals with less than five years of experience.

Said Forrey:  “The trainees and new hires themselves are not the problem.  They are dedicated professionals who represent the future of air traffic control, and if given the proper tools and training they will excel in this safety profession.  The problem is the agency’s inability to provide them with the comprehensive training they need.”

Click Here to read the testimony.


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