What can be done about the air traffic contoller shortage?

With air space in the U.S. at an ever increasing capacity, the FAA does not seem to be concerned with supporting its controller workforce by imposing rules that are cutting pay and benefits, creating a hostile workplace with overworked and fatuiged controllers, forcing resignations and early retirements and creating an environment that deters new hires from applying. They are certainly not concerned with air safety.

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  • Kevin
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    I just wanted to address the suggestions from the poster above me first. 1) You cannot go to ATC training over 30 because in the Federal government you have to work 25 years to retire. Air traffic controllers are forced to retire at 55. Simple math tells you if you start after 30, you cannot retire, thus won't recieve pension and retirement benifits so what is the point unless you want to work well into your 70's.

    2) Crush the union? The FAA cut all controller's pay by 30% and eliminated the incentive pay to controllers who train developmentals. Don't you think the 30% drop in pay had something to do with it? Would any of you still hang around your job or consider taking your job if you had to do it all over again for 30% less pay and 50 to 60 hour work weeks? The union has been telling the FAA they were heading for a crisis for years and tried to minimize the pay cut knowing full well that will lead to an increase of resignations, retirements and people declining positions. The pay cuts have caused 100 new controllers to resign in the past 6 months, because frankly you can't live in LA or NYC on 30,000 a year. Now everyone eligable to retire is retiring because the lower pay is going to hurt their pensions. I've never heard of ANY union trying to keep people out of their profession. What logical reason could you come up with for that? The more union members a union has the stronger it is. You are seriously suggesting that NATCA wants to become weaker?

    Also, the bit about not hearing about any mid airs... A crash last year in Lexington, KY happened under the watch of a controller who worked 18 hours in a 26 hour period, who was alone in the tower and didn't spot the aircraft line up on the wrong runway because they were doing the job of two people. Manchester tower in New Hampshire had to shut down because the lone controller in the understaffed tower had to use the restroom. That temporary closure forced 2 SouthWest flights to hold outside the airspace and left one lifeguard flight transporting organs to be transplanted stranded on the ground awaiting a takeoff clearance until the controller got back. I could go through a litany of near disasters including LA Center losing power and controllers having to direct planes via cell phone calls to other facilities so that facility could relay the messages and staffing running so tight that if one person calls in sick, the tower can't operate leaving approach control service to an ARTCC that has no training in providing that service.

    The FAA has two options. Complete off the street hiring and putting the pay structure back up near where it was. They can either spend the money to pay people better who are willing to go through the training necessary prior to getting hired, or they can spend the same amount of money hiring 4 trainees for every one who makes it through training off the street. The third option is just continue to lower the minimum staffing at facilities so it looks like everything is fully staffed even though you have half the controllers you did 10 years ago. Of course that option is inviting disaster.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Put India in charge or Air Traffic.

    Divert all questions to India Air Traffic Control Center.

  • 1 decade ago

    Eliminate the age restriction barrier to entry. According to US law, one cannot even enter TRAINING to be an ATC if not under 30....

    Oh, and crush the ATC union....

  • 1 decade ago

    Things seem to be running more efficiently. I haven't heard of any midair collissions.

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