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WASHINGTON – The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) issued the following statement urging swift passage of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorization extension.

“NATCA is concerned that once again, the FAA authorization process has turned into a game of political chicken. We must have a stable, predictable funding stream for the FAA and its employees to operate and maintain the safest, most efficient, most complex, most diverse National Airspace System (NAS) in the world.

“If FAA’s authorization is not extended, employees will be furloughed and some FAA services will be suspended. The FAA also will lose the ability to generate revenue into the Airport and Airway Trust Fund through the collection of aviation ticket and fuel taxes. Even if Congress avoids an FAA shutdown, the preparation for a shutdown takes critical resources away from FAA’s mission. This is especially unacceptable because it comes at a time when FAA employees have worked tirelessly to restore aviation services in areas that have been devastated by recent hurricanes in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“The FAA should not be subject to shutdown threats, based on issues that have nothing to do with aviation. This situation highlights the importance of NATCA’s call for a stable, predictable funding stream that adequately supports air traffic control services, staffing, hiring and training, long-term modernization projects, preventative maintenance, and ongoing modernization to the physical infrastructure. NATCA calls on Congress to quickly pass the FAA extension bill, The Disaster Tax Relief and Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2017, and maintain FAA operations without further interruption."

On background:

The lack of a stable, predictable funding stream for the NAS continues to be a major challenge. Prior to passage of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-95), our 24/7 aviation system was forced to overcome 23 authorization extensions, including a partial shutdown. Since its expiration, the NAS also has experienced three more extensions. Additionally, in the past five years the FAA has experienced a partial shutdown, a complete government shutdown, as well as numerous threatened shutdowns due to lapses or near-lapses in appropriations. The next potential FAA shutdown looms on Sept. 30.

We have faced significant challenges during the last decade, because we have not had a stable, predictable funding stream. Nothing illustrates that more than the current 28-year low of fully certified air traffic controllers. Controller staffing has been a major concern for years, but it reached a crisis level in 2015. The total number of fully certified professional controllers (CPCs) has dropped 10 percent since 2011 and continues to decline. The most recent FAA count indicates there are 10,595 CPCs. This number represents the disturbing continuation of a sharp five-year decline. Despite some incremental progress since late 2015, the current total of CPCs is more than 2,300 short of the FAA’s overall operational target of 12,896.

NATCA calls for the passage of a comprehensive FAA authorization act that meets NATCA’s four core principles for reform:

  • Ensure that NATCA members are fully protected in their employment relationship.
  • Maintain safety and efficiency as the top priorities within the NAS.
  • Establish a stable, predictable funding stream that adequately supports air traffic control services, staffing, hiring and training, long-term modernization projects, preventative maintenance, and ongoing modernization to the physical infrastructure.
  • Protect our dynamic aviation system that provides services to all segments of the aviation community, from commercial passenger carriers and cargo haulers to business jets and general aviation, from the major airports to those in small communities and rural America.

MORE INFORMATION: Doug Church, Director of Communications
301-346-8245 or dchurch@natcadc.org.

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Certified in 1987, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association represents nearly 20,000 highly skilled air traffic controllers, engineers, and other aviation safety-related professionals.