Five Government Studies Underscore Need for ATC Reform

In recent months, government investigators have released studies that have identified problems with our domestic air traffic control system. The delays in air traffic control upgrades have been the result of unpredictable government funding and bureaucratic fights. A separate not-for-profit entity would create stability in long-term planning and hiring, and would aid in continuous technology upgrades. Safety is and will remain the top priority, within the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) oversight.

Below are some recent report highlights, as well as links to learn more about each.

U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General: FAA Reforms Have Not Achieved Expected Cost, Efficiency, and Modernization Outcomes (January 15, 2016). “Several NextGen‐critical programs remain over budget and behind schedule due to overambitious plans, unresolved requirements, software development problems, ineffective contract management, and unreliable cost and schedule.” (read more)

U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General: FAA Continues To Face Challenges in Ensuring Enough Fully Trained Controllers at Critical Facilities (January 11, 2016). “FAA has not yet established an effective process for balancing training requirements with pending retirements when managing its controller resources at its critical facilities.” (read more)

GAO: Observations on the Effects of Budget Uncertainty on FAA (November 19, 2015). “During the week of April 21‐27, 2013, while furloughs were in effect, sequester‐related air traffic controller furloughs delayed 7,099 flights, mostly in heavily congested air‐traffic areas. Moreover, FAA implemented a hiring freeze at its air traffic controller training academy in response to sequestration and at the time of this review had fewer controllers than expected.” (read more)

U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General: FAA’s Security Controls Are Insufficient for Large Terminal Radar Approach Control Facilities (February 4, 2016). This report was considered so sensitive that its contents – beyond the damning headline – was not even released publicly. The summary contains the following warning: “No part of this record may be disclosed to persons without a ‘need to know.’” (read more)

U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General: FAA’s Contingency Plans and Security Protocols Were Insufficient at Chicago Air Traffic Control Facilities (September 29, 2015). “The contingency plans developed by FAA did not adequately address redundancy or resiliency and were insufficient to quickly restore operations after the Chicago fire. Moreover, the damage highlighted weaknesses in FAA’s current air traffic control infrastructure, which has limited flexibility to respond to system failures.” (read more)