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Sun, Nov 26, 2023

FAA Review Finds Inadequate ATC Staffing Around the Country

More Overtime Than Ever as Departments Remain Chronically Shortstaffed

The FAA’s National Airspace System (NAS) Safety Review Team (SRT) issued its report into recent SNAFUs involving aircraft in the public eye, and the National Association of Air Traffic Controllers feels quite vindicated.

The NATC was glad to read that staffing issues - a longtime point of contention they've had with the FAA - were found to be a large part of recent problems. A shortfall of qualified tower personnel was found to be "eroding the margin of safety and injecting risk into the system". The SRT urged action to "urgently address this staffing crisis.” 

Overall, the Review Team found that controller staffing shortages ultimately resulted in diminished air traffic capacity and inefficient operations. Seats not only lay empty in ATC towers around the country, but those controllers who are present are spending more time than ever chained to their station. NATCA has found that almost half of FAA facilities endure a 6-day workweek at least once a month, with some so shorthanded that it's essentially the norm. Overtime is at "historically high levels", a risk factor in and of itself. The NATC's take on the situation is that the report vindicates a DoT audit said last summer when it concluded that the FAA had made "limited efforts to ensure adequate controller staffing at critical air traffic control facilities".

NATCA's overall reaction and analysis of the report can be found in full on the group's site, with additional insights into staff replenishment and legislative efforts to address the air traffic ecosystem's greatest shortcomings.

FMI: www.natca.org

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