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NATCA Observes Engineers Week - (2/20/2009)

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

WASHINGTON – In observing National Engineers Week (February 15-21), NATCA would like to recognize the 1,800 engineers in its bargaining units for not only their professional dedication and contributions but for their committed relationship with NATCA.

“On National Engineers Week we honor the men and women for the unending contributions they have made to our great profession.  We hope that this observance will foster a greater public interest in all aspects of the profession,” said Regional Vice President Mike MacDonald, who represents NATCA’s non-controller bargaining units, called “Region X” by the union.  “NATCA has long recognized our profession’s countless contributions to the National Airspace system and we will continue to stand united with our union in order to uphold our mutual commitment to the safety of the flying public and fair labor management by the FAA.”

Region X is comprised of several units; among them is the engineers and architects unit, comprised of 1,105 employees.  Responsible for the design, construction and remodeling of air traffic control facilities, as well as the evaluation and replacement of aging National Airspace System (NAS) equipment, this unit is the largest Region X group.  With 593 members, the aircraft certification unit’s main responsibility is to ensure that aircraft are tested and designed safely.  They also investigate incidents and accidents to maintain the safety of certified aircraft.

The final group – the airport’s program engineers – is made up of roughly 244 employees who support the NAS by issuing Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants and overseeing the engineering, construction and implementation of the AIP and the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems Programs (NPIAS), all according to FAA standards.  The AIP program can include anything from the building and rehabilitation of runways and taxiways to the improvement of Runway Safety Areas (RSA).  

In addition to the engineers that it represents, NATCA is the exclusive bargaining representative for over 15,000 air traffic controllers and trainees, currently working under imposed work rules put into place by the FAA in September 2006.  

In addition to those imposed work rules, NATCA also continues to fight against an FAA-imposed hardship on the engineer workforce through the institution of the FAA Consolidation Engineering Services Efficiency Plan (ESEP).  This plan will lead to management-directed reassignments of nearly 450 NATCA engineers.  Those unable or unwilling to relocate will be dismissed from federal service.

NATCA’s engineers and architects have been and always will be committed to ensuring the safety and efficiency of the NAS, despite FAA obstacles.  Over the past year NATCA engineers have held the FAA accountable for both the rushed certification process of the Eclipse jet and the agency’s loosening of its fuel-tank safety regulations (instituted after the 1996 TWA 800 explosion) in order to allow new aircraft to meet the agency’s certification standards.

Said NATCA President Patrick Forrey:  “The engineers are important members in our NATCA family, committed to reinstate fairness in the FAA.  These men and women play vital roles in preserving and improving the safety of the flying public and our nation’s air traffic control system.  I thank these members for their undying commitment to NATCA and its cause and I salute them for the role they serve preserving safety.”

For more information on Engineers’ Week, Region X and NATCA’s fight against the FAA’s lax fuel tank regulations visit:  http://www.eweek.org; http://www.natcaregionx.org/.

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