FAA Technicians Brief Congress on Modernization Efforts

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, Tom Brantley, national president of the Professional Airways Systems Specialists (PASS, AFL-CIO), testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Subcommittee on Aviation, to share concerns regarding the FAA’s modernization efforts, including the lack of PASS involvement in modernization projects, understaffing of the technical workforce, and the FAA’s proposals for reauthorization.

During his testimony, Brantley highlighted the FAA’s position prohibiting PASS involvement in modernization projects. “It is punitive to employees who are eager to see the agency succeed,” said Brantley. “In the end, the agency will inevitably suffer for choosing to give less than its best effort to FAA modernization.”

Implementation of the FAA Telecommunications Infrastructure (FTI) was cited as an example of problems that develop when stakeholders are not involved. “PASS members were removed from the FTI project and informed that their support on this program was not needed,” said Brantley. “Since that time, the costs have escalated, the expected benefits have deteriorated, and there have been numerous problems with implementation leading to several outages and other problems across the country. Implementation of future systems must include stakeholder participation—especially FAA technicians who are intimately aware of every aspect of the National Airspace System (NAS) and how each system affects every other system.”

Brantley expressed concern that chronic understaffing of the FAA’s technical workforce is being exacerbated by the agency’s inability to determine the number of employees needed to maintain the NAS and to meet the agency’s mission of providing the safest aviation system. Brantley also called into question the FAA motives for enabling the workforce to dissipate. “The FAA is deliberately understaffing its technical workforce in order to make it a more attractive target for outsourcing. To ensure effective modernization of the air traffic control system, it is obvious that the state of technician staffing needs immediate attention.”

With regards to the agency’s reauthorization proposal as it relates to modernization, Brantley criticized provisions that would outsource key components of the NAS, create a partisan commission to identify outsourcing targets and facility closures, and establish ambiguous “user fees” to fund the agency. “To introduce concepts that would hinder or abandon the work performed by FAA professionals would be to risk the foundation that keeps this country’s aviation system safe. PASS firmly believes that providing a safe and secure NAS is an obligation that must remain with the federal government.”

The complete testimony is available at www.passnational.org.


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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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