FAA Program Continues to Cause Disruptions and System Failures

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Professional Airways Systems Specialists (PASS), the union that represents more than 11,000 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employees, today cited the most recent system failures as an example of ongoing problems with the Federal Telecommunications Infrastructure (FTI) circuitry and communications system. Since its inception, the FTI program, which is provided by Harris Corporation and maintained by untrained contractors in facilities around the country, has been the source of countless outages, delays and safety problems.

The latest FTI-related issues involved a five-hour outage at the Birmingham Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT) Wednesday, causing 15 departure delays and numerous arrival delays, and on the very same day, a 15-minute outage at Atlanta’s Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON), which resulted in seven delays. Two other FTI-related outages have occurred since January 9 in Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. In all of the incidents, careless errors made by incompetent contractors were to blame and resulted in numerous delays.

Since the FTI contract was awarded by 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 2006 emphasized that the FAA must gain better control of its contractors. PASS has called attention on several occasions to problems associated with the work around the FTI transition.

Harris contractors tasked with maintaining FTI are neither properly supervised nor qualified to do this work, PASS contends. “These contractors simply lack the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to maintain equipment vital to the safe operation of air traffic,” said Dave Spero, PASS regional vice president. “FTI failures around the country are becoming all too common with no discernable solution from the FAA in sight. Rather, the FAA embarked on this new system without enough study or thought and continues to turn a blind eye by allowing vital equipment and systems to remain vulnerable to contractors who aren’t up to the job.”


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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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