Fri, Sep 08, 2006
Questions Raised By Comair Accident Highlight Tension
After an initially
measured response, for the most part, as news of ATC staffing
shortages became widely known in the wake of the loss of Comair
Flight 5191... the National Air Traffic Controllers Association has
gone on the offensive, reporting staff shortages at Louisville
Regional Airport have led to numerous delays in landings and
takeoffs on overnight shifts in the past year.
Jeff Gilde, president of the union at Louisville International,
says takeoffs and landings have been slowed at least a half-dozen
times at the airport... which besides its commercial airline
service, is also a major cargo hub for United Parcel Service.
"You're working the same amount of traffic with less," said
Glide, adding that staffing shortages also affect leave for
controllers... and the FAA isn't allowing overtime to cover
The FAA flatly denies those charges... saying the tower in
Louisville has 45 controllers, and that's plenty.
"Our goal is to match the staffing levels to the traffic and
make the best possible use of the staff we have," said agency
spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen. "We have never slowed traffic due to
staffing and no one has been denied leave because of staffing."
NATCA responds only 41 controllers are in place in Louisville --
down from 51 eighteen months ago -- and that includes one
controller since reassigned to Blue Grass Airport.
The battle over staffing shortages comes at NATCA fights with
the FAA over labor issues... where the two sides are deadlocked. As Aero-News reported, the
FAA imposed a new contract on controllers in June.
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