FAA Contractor Negligence Again Puts Safety at Risk

MIAMI, FL – The Professional Airways Systems Specialists (PASS), the union that represents more than 11,000 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employees, today pointed out that contractors working for Harris Corporation, the company now providing Federal Telecommunications Infrastructure (FTI) circuitry and communications for the FAA, were responsible for the system malfunction yesterday at the Miami Air Traffic Control Center (ARTCC), which put air passengers in jeopardy and caused major air traffic delays.

A contractor working for Harris on Monday began work on an underwater cable that runs between the Miami ARTCC and the San Juan Center Radar Approach Control (CERAP) during peak hours. By noon, PASS systems specialists began noticing that the primary system began to malfunction and lose flight data and as a result, resorted to a less comprehensive backup system. Although, systems specialists were able to restore the primary system in minutes, the impact to air traffic in Florida had already taken its toll – 58 delays in Miami and San Juan.

Since Harris was awarded the FTI contract with the FAA in 2002, the transition to the system has been plagued with contractor errors, outages, missed deadlines and escalating costs. A Department of Transportation (DOT) Office of Inspector General (IG) report released in May emphasized that the FAA must gain better control of its contractors. PASS has called attention on several occasions to problems associated with the work of Harris contractors, with the most recent incident involving loss of radars in Dallas/Fort Worth and New York.
“With the holiday season being the busiest travel time during the year, the FAA cannot afford to allow this sort of incompetence and carelessness with its contractors,” said Dave Spero, PASS regional vice president. “We’re like a broken record – continually warning the FAA that it must demand that private contractors live up to some minimum level of service and competence. The reliability and efficiency of these systems is vital to ensuring the safety of the flying public.”


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 www.passnational.org.

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