FAA And NATCA, Far From The Last Word

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We had asked the FAA to comment for our Monday issue on the latest remarks from NATCA President John Carr ("we will fight") regarding the failure of Congress to act on the FAA-controller contract, but when we heard back from spokesman Geoffrey Basye it was after deadline. He told us, "From Day One the FAA has adhered to the legal framework guiding the negotiations process; a framework already established by Congress in 1996. That process has wrapped up and effective Monday, June 5, in accordance with law, the FAA announced that it would move promptly to implement the new contract, which raises current average compensation and benefits for controllers from $165,900 to $187,000. So to close on this point, the FAA did not 'snub' Congress, it followed, in a good-faith manner, the established law set by Congress in 1996," Basye said. "As for Carr's comments on delays and safety problems, I think he underestimates the dedication and professionalism of the controller workforce, a group he claims to represent. We are currently in the safest travel period in aviation industry. One would have to fly every day for 43,000 years to encounter a fatality in the air. This is in large part to the many men and women working at the FAA who are not only managing the traffic in the air, but who are also certifying and inspecting the aircraft on the ground, ensuring they're prepared for flight. It is in this spirit that the FAA moves forward with the implementation of its new contract; a contract that is generous for controllers, saves the taxpayer $1.9 billion over five years, and gives the FAA the much-needed resources it needs to make modernization and safety investments that the traveling public deserves." Meanwhile, Carr continues his daily blog posts, and notes that he is looking forward to the end of FAA Administrator Marion Blakey's tenure, just 15 months away. "With any luck at all the new Administrator will view employees as an asset, rather than speed-bumps on the road to the bottom of the barrel in Human Relations," says Carr.