LETTER: AIR-TRAFFIC CONTROLLER CRITICIZES FAA
From Anthony Silver, Baton Rouge Air-Traffic Controller


2TheAdvocate.com
September 20, 2006


The Comair accident in Lexington, Ky., should serve as a wake-up call for the flying public in regard to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA chose not to follow its own policy to have two air-traffic controllers staffing Lexington Blue Grass Airport tower at night.

Why?

Because the FAA has failed to hire enough controllers to adequately staff Lexington Blue Grass Airport and many other air-traffic-control facilities across the United States. Try Dallas, Atlanta and Houston, to name some.

In 1981 President Reagan fired almost the entire controller work force for striking. That was 25 years ago. Now many of the controllers hired after the strike are ready to retire. The FAA's hiring policy has not kept pace. This has made staffing dangerously low at most air trafic control facilities.

To make matters worse, the ones who could stay are retiring anyway. This is because the FAA has decided to impose strict work rules on controllers and cut pay instead of negotiating with their union, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, for a new contract.
Under the FAA's new pay system, experienced controllers at lower facilities, such as Baton Rouge, cannot move to busier facilities such as Dallas, Atlanta etc. The reason: If they did, most controllers would take a pay cut or get a minimal raise for moving up.
Instead, the FAA is hiring controllers with little to no experience to staff these busy facilities at a MUCH lower wage. A new controller entering the work force will receive an hourly wage of $8.81 to start. That's right. You can make more at Burger King to start than as an air-traffic controller.

Feeling safer yet?

All this is typical for the current FAA. Instead of being concerned for the safety of the public, the FAA is concerned about saving a dollar. They say the FAA should be "run like a business," therefore we should "do more with less" and "cut cost where we can."

What is the cost? Your safety!

The FAA is not a business and should not be run like one. It should be a governmental function to protect travelers' safety at any cost!

Don't believe the FAA rhetoric of how it is going broke. It wastes more money than any other agency in government!

This has made controller morale very low and put more stress on an already-stressful job. The public should be outraged!

How many more accidents will it take before the public is awakened to what the FAA is doing with the public's safety?

It's time to wake up and call your congressperson. Call the FAA administrator, Marion Blakey. Tell them you want your safety to come first. Tell them you support the controllers who bring you home safely every day.

Anthony Silver
air-traffic controller
Baton Rouge