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Controller Staffing Crisis: Total At 27-Year Low


The number of fully certified air traffic controllers, already at a 27-year low, fell again in the first three months of 2016. Among its recommendations, NATCA is calling on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to increase annual hiring totals and is advocating for stable, predictable funding for the FAA, including ensuring that the FAA is not subject to future sequester cuts.

Controller staffing levels have fallen nearly 10 percent since 2011, and the FAA has missed its hiring goals in each of the last seven years. In fact, in fiscal year 2015, the FAA fell 24 percent short of its hiring goal. More controllers are eligible to retire today, specifically one-quarter of the workforce, than are in the pipeline to replace them.

The Need for Stable, Predictable Funding Stream


NATCA’s primary objective remains the same: to achieve a stable, predictable funding stream for the National Airspace System (NAS). NATCA will review any new proposal and evaluate it based on whether it protects workforce rights and benefits, maintains safety and efficiency as the top priorities, creates funding certainty, and maintains service to all segments of the aviation community.

An extension to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorization now runs through September. Unfortunately, this legislation does not provide the long-term funding certainty our NAS needs. It does, however, contain important provisions that would streamline the hiring process for controllers, an important step considering the current hiring crisis impacting the air traffic control workforce.

While NATCA considers the extension a good start that provides certainty through the end of the current fiscal year, our preference is for a full, long-term reauthorization with a stable, predictable funding stream that ends both sequestration and the stop-and-go funding that has harmed the NAS.

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