Former FAA COO: Transforming ATC Will Put “Sharper Focus” on Safety

Published By#ModernSkies

An op-ed from former FAA Chief Operating Officer David Grizzle states that the FAA has missed its hiring goals for the last five years and is facing a situation where 3,000 air traffic controllers are expected to retire in the upcoming years. At Miami International, the situation looks like this:

“The traffic at the Miami International Airport requires 91 certified air traffic controllers, but it has just 58; the situation at the regional control center, which oversees airspace between Orlando and Puerto Rico, is almost as bad, filling just 205 of the required 267 slots. Staffing shortages and longer shifts directly contribute to fatigue, which is dangerous.”

In a separate piece by executives from four of the largest airlines, it’s noted that the National Air Traffic Controllers Association “spoke out forcefully about the stress that the current funding levels and uncertainty create for the recruiting, training, and maintaining of air-traffic controllers.” Unless something changes, we’re looking at a pretty dire future of air traffic control.

Grizzle advocates for restructuring the FAA to send air traffic control operations to an independent, not-for-profit organization that would still be overseen by the appropriate federal agency but that would remove the politics from hiring and staffing functions. As Grizzle notes, the FAA oversees itself and “must split its focus” between ATC and civil aviation safety. He continues,

“Transforming air traffic control will provide a sharper focus on safety for employees and travelers while ensuring the system can accommodate the inevitable increase in air travel in the years to come.”

Check out the entire piece here.