Blakey, Congress May Not See Eye-To-Eye
FAA Administrator Marion
Blakey has said in the past she believes ATC hiring is keeping pace
with retirements, contending there are sufficient
controllers, overall, and planes are being moved
safely and efficiently.
The next chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure
Committee, Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN), contends that the FAA
requires a workable plan that will address a wave, which has
already begun, of retirements, and will keep pace with increasing
"Otherwise, we will be left with an air traffic system... unable
to accommodate future demands," Oberstar (right) said.
He noted that the FAA plan submitted in June lacked a cost
estimate, as well as the number of controllers required at each
facility (numbers the FAA promises to provide this spring).
"There is no question in my mind that there are more air traffic
controllers retiring than the FAA anticipated," added Rep. Jerry
Costello (D-IL) to the Gannett News Service. Costello is the likely
head of next year’s House Transit Panel’s Aviation
"The whole agency has been ... frozen and inactive in the face
of a number of crises,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), a
regular critic of the FAA, adding those crises include controller
staffing. "Any time you are understaffed and overworked, you worry
about the possibility of errors caused by fatigue."
Another voice saying of "not enough controllers" is Rep. Ben
Chandler (D-KY), whose district includes Lexington, site of the
August 27 Comair crash that killed 49 people.
Outgoing chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure
Subcommittee on Aviation, John Mica (R-FL), says the September 3
contract the FAA imposed will solve many staffing issues, including
allowing the agency to quickly move controllers to where they are