NATCA Attacks The Messenger (And The Message)...

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Controllers Union Responds...

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) has lashed out at an anonymous letter published by AVweb last Thursday in which a controller (air traffic, there are no other kinds) contends that a looming controller shortage is largely a myth and that many controllers take advantage of liberal working conditions enshrined in the union contract. NATCA initially declined AVweb's invitation to respond to *Jane Doe's* allegations, but President John Carr apparently had a change of heart. In his response letter, which appears in full in our expanded online coverage (along with multiple letters from other controllers and retired controllers who wrote in support of Ms. Doe's position), Carr categorically denies most of *Jane Doe's* allegations, doubts if she is really a working controller and appears to suggest she may be mentally ill. Carr says there is ample evidence, not only from NATCA but from the FAA, the Government Accountability Office and the Inspector General for the Department of Transportation, that the shortage is real and is going to get worse. He also defends the work ethic of controllers, noting that "time on position" is not an accurate reflection of productivity because controllers have other work to do during their shifts. Carr also defends the sick-leave provisions for controllers (two and a half weeks per year) as necessary given the numerous over-the-counter cold, flu and allergy medications that disqualify a controller from working traffic.