As the aviation subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives wrestles with deciding which of the FAA’s 402 Air Traffic Control facilities should be remodeled and which ones should be combined to reduce operating costs, Congressmen have been hearing testimony from the FAA, DOT and National Air Traffic Controllers Association (Natca) off
Terminal Control Center
Although the FAA has begun hiring and training more than 12,000 air traffic controllers to offset the large numbers of impending retirees, a disturbing number of new hires fail to complete their training, according to a January report from the DOT Office of the Inspector General (OIG).
Aerospace companies, airlines and communications providers have aligned to pursue the FAA’s Data Communications Integrated Services (DCIS) contract, the second major step in the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) modernization effort. The contenders expect a contract award in June for the 17-year, multibillion-dollar program.
The FAA broke ground yesterday on a new $69 million air traffic control tower and Tracon facility at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, replacing the tower that has served the airport since 1988.
While fatigue has attracted the most attention as a cause of the recent well publicized air traffic controller errors, the Transportation Department’s top watchdog suggests that training and staffing may also play a large part.
The fallout from what began with a single air traffic controller falling asleep on an overnight shift at Washington Reagan National Airport on March 23 continued to cascade late last month when the FAA unilaterally ended a practice whereby controllers voluntarily worked grueling shifts to accrue long weekends.
The air traffic controller at the center of the controversy surrounding a pair of flights that had to land at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport early Wednesday morning without ATC clearance from DCA told NTSB investigators that he had fallen asleep, the Safety Board reported this evening.
In a statement issued this afternoon, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt expressed “outrage” over the incidents early yesterday at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in which two separate flight crews could not reach an air traffic controller as their aircraft were upon approach to the field shortly after midnight.
AOPA has expressed serious concerns about a new letter to airmen issued by Potomac approach control requiring pilots flying in traffic patterns of nontowered airports within the Washington special flight rules area (SFRA) to report their flight’s completion on a “provided telephone number.” Radio reports of termination will no longer be accepted.