...More Supervisors Hired

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FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro said additional supervisors are needed to help rejigger shift schedules and staff deployment at the TRACON. He said the investigators found instances where there were relatively few controllers on position during very busy times and more on position during relatively slow periods (recall the recent letter sent to AVweb regarding the disposition of controllers ... and NATCA). He said it's not just a matter of drawing up a new schedule because shift starting times are part of the collective agreement with the union. "I wish we could say that we could fix these things overnight, but we can't," said Molinaro. Molinaro also said the facility has evolved its own set of operating standards over the years and the agency wants to re-establish standard procedures there. NATCA President John Carr told the teleconference the solution is to hire more controllers. Carr said a facility like Chicago should have the full complement of controllers and that 85 to 90 percent of them should be fully certified. Compounding the situation is the fact that about 70 percent of those who apply to work in Chicago can't handle the job. "It's a dreadful rotating door of failure," he said. Carr said the FAA's attitude in Chicago is representative of the national situation and he said flight delays and safety issues are inevitable as more experienced controllers retire. Molinaro said the FAA is actively recruiting for Chicago and recently attracted eight experienced controllers through new incentives, including a $27,000 moving allowance. "We truly are adding controllers," he said.