Union responds to Trump proposal to reform air traffic control; supports nonprofit approach

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WSAV) – The National Air Traffic Control Association released a statement in response to President Donald Trump’s announcement yesterday on his Air Traffic Control Reform Initiative.

National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) President Paul Rinaldi stated:

“NATCA shares the Administration’s commitments to infrastructure modernization and providing the National Airspace System (NAS) with a stable, predictable funding stream. We look forward to reviewing the specifics of the air traffic control (ATC) reform legislation so we can evaluate whether it satisfies our Union’s principles, including protecting the rights and benefits of the ATC workforce.”

During a White House Ceremony on Monday, the president said the current FAA managed system is antiquated, citing chronic delays in the air and on tarmacs.

The president called our current system “horrible” and “broken” among other descriptions.

The administration wants Congress to vote on legislation that would move all air traffic control to a private, non-profit agency that could control its own budgets and equipment purchases.

WSAV’s JoAnn Merrigan, reached out to Doug Church, Director of Communications for NATCA, for clarification on the release. According to Church, the group would support a nonprofit model, meaning they would not approve of a for-profit corporation in charge of air safety.

He says it’s early in the process, and they want to learn more about the president’s proposal.  Church’s group says one of the issues in funding is that they need a stable source. There has been a nationwide shortage of staff and they are currently at a 28-year low.

According to Church, there are 19 air traffic controllers employed at SAV Hilton Head International Airport Tower. He adds that there are eight more controllers in training and that training often takes several years to complete the training.

The new release from the union continues with more information:

ON BACKGROUND: NATCA considers the status quo to be unacceptable and will oppose any ATC reform proposal that would institute a for-profit model. NATCA previously supported a federally chartered not-for-profit corporation model, as proposed in the Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act of 2016, because it met our four core principles for reform. For NATCA to consider supporting any new reform proposal, it must – at minimum:

  • protect the rights and benefits of the workforce;
  • ensure that safety and efficiency remain the top priorities;
  • provide a stable, predictable funding stream that adequately supports air traffic control services, staffing, hiring and training, long-term modernization, preventative maintenance, and ongoing modernization of the physical infrastructure; and
  • maintain service to all segments of our nation’s diverse aviation community.

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