On Day 33 of the government shutdown, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) issued a dire warning:
“We have a growing concern for the safety and security of our members, our airlines, and the traveling public due to the government shutdown. This is already the longest government shutdown in the history of the United States and there is no end in sight. In our risk averse industry, we cannot even calculate the level of risk currently at play, nor predict the point at which the entire system will break. It is unprecedented.”
“Due to the shutdown, air traffic controllers, transportation security officers, safety inspectors, air marshals, federal law enforcement officers, FBI agents, and many other critical workers have been working without pay for over a month,” continues the statement, released in partnership with the Air Line Pilots Association and the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA.
“Staffing in our air traffic control facilities is already at a 30-year low and controllers are only able to maintain the system’s efficiency and capacity by working overtime, including 10-hour days and 6-day workweeks at many of our nation’s busiest facilities. Due to the shutdown, the FAA has frozen hiring and shuttered its training academy, so there is no plan in effect to fill the FAA’s critical staffing need.”
“Even if the FAA were hiring, it takes two to four years to become fully facility certified and achieve Certified Professional Controller (CPC) status. Almost 20% of CPCs are eligible to retire today. There are no options to keep these professionals at work without a paycheck when they can no longer afford to support their families. When they elect to retire, the National Airspace System (NAS) will be crippled.”
The statement notes that the situation is “changing at a rapid pace.”
“Major airports are already seeing security checkpoint closures, with many more potentially to follow. Safety inspectors and federal cyber security staff are not back on the job at pre-shutdown levels, and those not on furlough are working without pay. Last Saturday, TSA management announced that a growing number of officers cannot come to work due to the financial toll of the shutdown.”
“In addition, we are not confident that system-wide analyses of safety reporting data, which is used to identify and implement corrective actions in order to reduce risks and prevent accidents is 100% operational due to reduced FAA resources,” the statement continues.
“As union leaders, we find it unconscionable that aviation professionals are being asked to work without pay and in an air safety environment that is deteriorating by the day. To avoid disruption to our aviation system, we urge Congress and the White House to take all necessary steps to end this shutdown immediately. “
Daniel Carlson says
$$$$ is what’s in control here? It’s enough to make a preacher cuss.
It would be awesome to see the ATC leadership send a message to Congress to keep ATC the Coast Guard and TSA funded with backpay, out of the pockets of the representatives salary and the salary’s of their staffers! It would get real in a hurry
Schumer just killed the side funding bill for the Coast Guard.
wow what a choice
a free vacation if u stay home or overtime if u come in
laughing all the way to the bank
Donald Purney says
d you are an ….
“Free” vacation? Can’t go anywhere or do anything. No money. Overtime is nice to an extent but 60 hours a week gets old very quickly and takes a toll on health and family. Nobody is laughing; to the bank or anywhere else and there is no end in sight.
When is the last time you went a month plus with no income?
Oh, and please learn to spell. The word is you.
A retired air traffic controller that has worked through shutdowns and the PATCO strike.