Controller Staffing Down 10 Percent, Hiring Lags

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) is calling for a congressional hearing about the chronic understaffing of air traffic control facilities. New data show that national staffing totals have fallen nearly 10 percent since 2011 and the number of fully certified air traffic controllers is at the lowest level in 27 years.

Official Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) data shows the agency will miss its air traffic controller hiring goal for fiscal year 2015. This will be the fifth consecutive fiscal year in which the FAA has not hired enough air traffic controllers to keep up with the pace of workforce attrition. As of August 22, 2015, the FAA had only hired 1,178 of a planned 1,772 air traffic controllers, putting the agency 34 percent behind its goal.

Of the 10,859 certified controllers, 30 percent are eligible to retire at any time.

For more about the staffing shortage, please click here.

FACT SHEET: National air traffic controller staffing numbers.

FACT SHEET: Air traffic controller staffing crisis at major hubs.

NATCA EVP Trish Gilbert: "Our Workforce is Suffering Because of the Staffing Shortage"

"We want to be clear: The safety of the air traffic control system is not at risk. Air traffic controllers are incredibly resilient. But we see that they are in dire straits and therefore we must speak up. We have far too few controllers in our towers and radars rooms. If left unaddressed, the situation could result in delays similar to those the country experienced in April 2013, when air traffic controllers were furloughed due to sequestration’s mandatory budget cuts.

"Our workforce is suffering because of the staffing shortage. If the health of the controller workforce declines, the health of the National Airspace System declines. We are urging Congress to examine the issue so we can set this country’s aviation system up for success. If nothing changes, there simply won’t be enough air traffic controllers to maintain the current level of services, much less implement long overdue modernization efforts."

To read more, please click here.

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