FAA Giving Away Critical Flight Safety Work

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The FAA has recently approved contracting out the development of Required Navigation Performance (RNP) procedures for airlines and airports in the United States to Naverus, a private organization that provides performance-based aviation navigation worldwide. This decision has the Professional Airways Systems Specialists (PASS, AFL-CIO), the union that represents flight procedures specialists extremely alarmed and concerned.

RNP uses high-performance navigation technologies, avionics and GPS through a series of complex measures and computations to determine the best altitudes and flight paths that not only reduce fuel costs and expand service for airlines but also lower emissions and noise over communities surrounding airports.

Currently, the FAA produces RNP procedures with its own highly trained and specialized workforce. “We can’t begin to understand why the FAA, after providing this service with great success for over two years, would approve an international vendor to charge U.S. airlines for this critical service,” said Chris Zuest, the union representative for the FAA’s flight procedures specialists.

“Has it occurred to the FAA that creating a carbon-copy system to put together these intricate procedures will open a Pandora’s Box of dissimilar procedures in the future?” asked Bob Abbott, PASS regional vice president. “The airspace around our airports is crowded and complex; it is not a remote region of Asia, the western Pacific or the Caribbean where international companies like Naverus have helped air carriers deliver new and expanded service,” Abbott said. “Delegating out the work performed by professional FAA employees puts at risk the very foundation that keeps this country’s aviation infrastructure safe. This is inherently governmental work and should not be contracted out.”

In its reauthorization proposal, the FAA has asked that Congress approve a pilot program to allow wholesaling of the agency’s public flight safety procedures development work to private companies with a profit interest, such as Naverus. Congress has yet to act on the FAA reauthorization bill and will likely not begin working on the FAA’s proposals until May.


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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