Controller Departures Adding Up

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The FAA says air traffic control staffing levels are actually better than they are portrayed in the FAA Administratorís Fact Book, but the National Air Traffic Controllers Association maintains the agency remains far behind in keeping the consoles occupied. An FAA spokesman told GovExec.com that figures in the fact book showing a net decline of almost 500 controllers in the past three years are wrong. Itís actually about 300. In the meantime, according to NATCA, senior controllers are leaving at the rate of about three a day, many of them members of the retirement bubble that will create a mass exodus of controllers over the next 10 years. And while the FAA insists it has the staffing situation under control, NATCA disagrees. The union says the figures show the agency isnít able to keep up with vacated positions and that the problem will only get worse. According to the FAA, however, itís not just retirements that are emptying chairs in towers and centers. Of the approximately 10,000 controllers expected to leave in the next eight years, about 3,500 will simply quit, get promoted, be fired or die.