Says New Staffers Are Coming Onboard To Fill Posts
In response to a scathing report issued Tuesday by the National
Air Traffic Controllers Association on the state of what the union
calls a staffing crisis at Southern California control facilities,
the FAA contends controllers are bending the numbers to "make
something appear one way when it is not the case."
As Aero-News reported, NATCA
states Los Angeles International Airport has 35 certified
controllers on staff -- with about 14 of those either eligible to
retire in coming months, or awaiting transfers to other facilities.
The union contends the FAA's restaffing plan will not fill those
voids soon enough... and that staffing levels at LAX could be down
to 27 controllers within a year, potentially impacting safety.
"A number that low would cause massive delays, no matter how
much the FAA forces controllers to work overtime," said Mike Foote,
the LAX facility representative for the National Air Traffic
In response, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor told KNBC-4 the actual
number of controllers at LAX is 39, who are either already
certified or are training after transferring from other facilities.
Gregor further states 10 controllers will come up for retirement
this year -- but historically, the FAA expects only two of those to
"We absolutely are factoring retirements into the equation.
There's no question," he said.
Controllers who have requested transfers out of LAX aren't being
allowed to leave until replacements are online, Gregor added. The
spokesman also disputes NATCA's claims of decreased safety
margins... stating "about 80 percent" of all airport incidents "are
pilot error ... and therefore controller staffing has absolutely
nothing to do with it."
Gregor also took NATCA to task for claiming a staffing shortage
in Long Beach has led to forced overtime, and controllers working
as long as 60 hours per week. The spokesman acknowledged
controllers are having to work overtime, as their facility is one
short of its target staffing range of up to 21 controllers. But the
FAA plans to bring five new hires onboard this fiscal year, Gregor
said, and two "developmental" controllers are already on staff in
Gregor points to NATCA's dissatisfaction with the pay contract
enforced last year for its claims.