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NATCA Supports House FAA Bill That Would Help Ensure Air Safety - (2/9/2011)

CONTACT: Doug Church, 301-346-8245

WASHINGTON – Representing a highly motivated and dedicated workforce of safety professionals, National Air Traffic Controllers Association President Paul Rinaldi told the House Aviation Subcommittee, in his prepared testimony submitted before today's hearing, that NATCA is working more effectively with the Federal Aviation Administration in an improving relationship built on collaboration. Thus, NATCA supports the swift passage of a comprehensive FAA reauthorization bill that will help its frontline workforce make the world’s safest skies even safer.

Ratification of a new contract with the FAA in 2009 ended three years of imposed work rules that led to unprecedented attrition rates and the negative consequences associated with a large-scale loss of experienced workers. One of the many beneficial by-products of improved labor relations, Rinaldi told the committee, is the significant increase in NATCA’s inclusion in modernization projects.

“NATCA’s controllers have been providing essential input into the research, development, testing, and implementation stages of NextGen modernization projects,” he said. “This process relies on current, certified and proficient controllers who provide unique insight into both the needs of the air traffic control system and the functionality of modernizations. This pre-decisional input in projects helps the FAA ensure safety and it saves both time and money.”

Rinaldi reaffirmed NATCA’s commitment to safety and professionalism.

“As the working men and women who make up our nation’s air traffic control system, we dedicate ourselves to furthering the public’s interest in preserving, promoting and improving safe and efficient air transportation,” Rinaldi said. “Our dedication is evident in our long history of supporting new technology and modernization and the enhancement of our nation’s air traffic control (ATC) system. Controllers and other aviation safety professionals who work with the technology every day have a vested interest in implementing improvements to the air traffic control system that enable us to better meet the highest safety standards. Through collaboration with the FAA, NATCA is working to ensure that the National Airspace System is prepared to meet the growing demand for aviation services.”

NATCA’s priorities for the 2011 FAA reauthorization bill are as follows:

-      First, official collaboration between the FAA and NATCA should be mandated by law. The guaranteed inclusion of NATCA’s subject matter expertise would ensure that safety and efficiency are maximized while modernizing our national airspace system. This will positively impact NextGen programs including the consolidation and realignment of facilities and services.

-      Second, the bill must include language establishing a fair dispute resolution process that enables the FAA and the aviation safety professionals that it employs to resolve negotiation disputes in a way that is fair and legitimate without imposing undue burdens on Congress.

“Good relations between the FAA and its employees help to ensure the stability of the controller workforce and that NATCA remains an integral part of NextGen development and implementation,” Rinaldi testified.

To read Rinaldi's full written testimony, please click here: http://www.natca.org/legislative_congressional_testimony.aspx#content

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