NATCA Declares "Staffing Emergency" At DFW TRACON

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The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) on Wednesday declared a "staffing emergency" at the Dallas-Fort Worth Terminal Radar Approach Control (DFW TRACON) and called on the FAA to act immediately to stem the loss of veteran controllers. The facility is dealing with a 34-percent drop in the number of fully trained and certified controllers on staff in just two years, according to NATCA. "Six-day weeks and 50 hours per week is now the norm for many of these men and women," DFW TRACON NATCA Facility Representative Steve Bates said in a statement. "This is a 24/7 high stress, high pressure job where mistakes can mean lives. Running our employees into exhaustion is not the way to do it." This is the fifth facility where NATCA has declared a "staffing emergency" in recent weeks. Others were cited in Atlanta, Chicago, New York and Southern California.

In January 2006, DFW TRACONN had 99 fully trained and certified controllers on staff. That number dropped to 80 by January 2007 and today the total stands at 65, says NATCA, and about half of those are eligible to retire by the end of this year. There are 14 trainees on staff.