NATCA Attacks FAA Over Luxury Items At Facilities
Two months after a high-profile Congressional hearing exposed
widespread health and safety problems at Federal Aviation
Administration air traffic control facilities across the country --
and in the midst of crippling and unsafe communications outages --
the FAA responded not by improving its maintenance practices but
instead by going on an end-of-fiscal year spending spree to outfit
scores of facilities with new and expensive furniture, televisions
and other high-end items.
That's the assertion made by the National Air Traffic
Controllers Association... a group always eager to take the FAA to
the woodshed on nearly any matter, given the union's bitter
struggle with the agency over a new contract. The union backs up
its latest claims with a list of improvements made to several
facilites -- including the mold-infested Atlanta Center -- that
have little, if nothing, to do with keeping the nation's skies
For example, NATCA claims, the FAA recently added over $5,000
worth of new furniture to the tower Asheville Regional Airport
(AVL). The agency added a $2,500 58" plasma TV -- replacing an
overhead powerpoint projector -- to the conference room in the
Charlotte-Douglas (CLT) tower, as well as an estimated $24,000 in
furnishings for new management offices.
It could certainly be argued some of the improvements NATCA
calls "frivolous, unneeded luxury items" do benefit controllers,
such as a new flat screen TV for the break room in the tower at
Yeager Airport (CRW) in Charleston, WV. The FAA also added new
furnishings, including new refridgerators and flat-screen TVs, to
break rooms at a number of towers and centers.
The benefits of other 'improvements', however -- such as an LED
message board to display "motivational messages" in the hallway of
the tower at Fayetteville Regional (FAY) -- are a bit more dubious.
Ditto the replacement of two air conditioning systems at FAY...
which NATCA notes "were five-years-old and were working
"This is the kind of reckless fiscal behavior that demands both
federal and Congressional investigations but sadly has become an
annual ritual of a bloated government bureaucracy, supposedly
looking out for the safety of the flying public, instead feeding
its gluttony at the taxpayer trough," NATCA President Patrick
NATCA notes the FAA recently added new leather furniture to the
conference rooms at Atlanta Center, as well as an 'extensive'
amount of sod and new furniture for manager offices.
As ANN reported, ZTL is under
siege by an outbreak of scopulariopsis mold growth under the
facility's elevated floor, and in the duct work of the facility...
a situation NATCA says was caused by a leaky roof.
The union also notes Fort Worth Center (ZFW) suffers from a
leaking roof... a problem not rectified by a redecorated lobby,
including an original oil painting (shown at center) valued at more
than $1,300. Those improvements come as plastic tarps hang over
electronic equipment to shield it from water leaking in
"This FAA cannot properly maintain its equipment, install new
equipment on time or on budget without creative re-baselining
techniques and routinely has claimed it is running its operations
'more like a business,'" Forrey said. "Well, now we know exactly
what that means: Keep your local furniture and electronics
merchants’ businesses flourishing!"