Manchester Tower Completion Raises Concerns for FAA Systems Specialists

MANCHESTER, NH – Professional Airways Systems Specialists (PASS), AFL-CIO, the union representing FAA systems specialists, today called on the FAA for increased resources following a dedication ceremony unveiling the new Manchester-Boston Tower project.

PASS members have been directly involved in all phases of the project since the April 2004 ground-breaking ceremony, working around the clock in order to complete the new $7.7 million Manchester-Boston Tower. The new tower, which replaces the air traffic control tower and its facilities built in 1961, became operational on its scheduled date of August 19, 2006. “If not for the hard work, dedication and ownership of systems specialists, including those at Manchester Tower, Boston Consolidated Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON), and Boston Center, the project would not have met its scheduled commissioning date,” said Tom Brantley, PASS national president

Rather than commending the commitment of the staff, who often worked 20 hour days to complete the project in addition to their immense daily workloads, the FAA is responding with resource and staffing cutbacks. Five years ago, the Manchester radar was staffed with four systems specialists and one coordinator seven days-a-week, 10 hours-a-day. Now, the radar is remotely maintained by a staff consisting of one systems specialist at a facility in Merrimack, N.H., nearly 15 miles away and two new hires, who are currently undergoing training off site in Oklahoma. Coverage has been reduced to five days-a-week, eight hours-a-day.

“The FAA must ensure that this new investment is cared for properly and professionally, and that means providing sufficient staffing to ensure the overall success of its modernization efforts. Simply put, this is an issue of safety,” said Brantley. “If something were to go wrong with the new equipment, no one is immediately available to respond to the situation, which greatly increases the risk to the flying public. It is imperative that the FAA provide staffing and funding to ensure that the safety of the American flying public is never compromised.”

For passenger service, the airport is currently the fourth largest in New England, serving over 4 million commercial airline passengers in 2005. That number has increased by approximately one million passengers between 2004 and 2005.


PASS represents more than 11,000 employees of the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Defense who install, maintain, support and certify air traffic control and national defense equipment, inspect and oversee the commercial and general aviation industries, develop flight procedures and perform quality analyses of the aviation systems. For more information, visit the PASS website at

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