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National Air Traffic Controllers Association’s President Rinaldi Denounces Sequestration, Calls For Aviation System Funding Certainty

Paul Rinaldi

WASHINGTON – Sequestration is a danger to the National Airspace System (NAS).

Paul Rinaldi

NATCA President Paul Rinaldi

That is the clear message National Air Traffic Controllers Association President Paul Rinaldi delivered Tuesday to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, for its hearing examining the upcoming FAA reauthorization and issues in modernizing and operating the nation’s airspace. Rinaldi emphasized the urgent need for funding certainty, to ensure everything from effective NextGen implementation to adequate staffing of air traffic controllers.

“Sequestration cut nearly $493 million from the FAA’s Operations budget, $142 million from its Facilities and Equipment budget, and $8.6 million from its Research, Engineering, and Development budget,” Rinaldi testified. “These sequestration cuts were not the result of a research-driven strategy to increase safety and efficiency, but rather for the sole purpose of saving money.”

Sequestration cuts have had many negative effects on the NAS, including massive flight delays that resulted from the FAA being forced to furlough FAA employees, including controllers, in 2013. “These funding cuts are problematic and will continue until Congress finds a way to end sequestration,” Rinaldi testified. “Until then, our NAS is in jeopardy of falling behind on efficiency, capacity, and most importantly, safety.”

While NATCA sees many other problems and challenges for the FAA, Rinaldi testified that funding is the primary issue to be addressed with the utmost urgency. The NAS is a 24/7 operation, and the FAA’s aviation specialists and air traffic controllers must continue to run that system while simultaneously working on research, development, testing, and the implementation of technology modernization, as well as training new hires to become fully certified controllers (CPCs). Stop-and-go funding increases costs and creates delays for all modernization efforts.

Rinaldi’s testimony outlined several consequences of unstable, unpredictable funding:

-       Operational and Redundancy Concerns

-       Inadequate Staffing

-       Hiring and Training Challenges

-       Delays in Modernizing the NAS

-       Continued Cuts to Federal Employee Pensions and Benefits

-       Potential Tower Closures

-       Potential Loss of Contract Towers

-       Economic Impact

“The NAS and the FAA workforce are in a transition period,” Rinaldi testified. “The FAA is working to implement NextGen modernization projects that will deploy new technology and equipment. In order to keep pace with these modernization projects and the rest of the world, the FAA needs to be properly funded and staffed, which can only happen with stable and predictable funding. We all have a stake in this economic engine, which contributes $1.5 trillion annually to our GDP and employs 12 million Americans. Congress, the FAA, and industry will need to work together to ensure that our NAS remains the safest and most efficient airspace in the world.”

To see the full NATCA testimony, please use this URL:

http://www.natca.org/ULWSiteResources/natcaweb/Resources/file/Legislative%20Center/Congressional%20Testimony/HouseTIHearingNov2014.pdf

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter Tours Manchester Tower

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image003Today, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter toured the control tower at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport with Andre Jean, National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) A90 Legislative Representative for Boston Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON); Jeffrey Carpenter, the Manchester ATCT Union President; Barrett Brown, the Air Traffic Manager at Manchester ATCT; and Mark Brewer, Airport Director.  The airport services 2.45 million passengers each year and is New England’s third largest cargo airport, processing more air cargo each year than all other regional airports in New England combined.

“I strongly support investing in our infrastructure and I am always proud to advocate for the Manchester Airport,” Shea-Porter said. “I am grateful to the hard-working men and women that make air travel so safe.”

Congresswoman Shea-Porter has long been a supporter of investment in infrastructure.  In May, Shea-Porter announced that the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport received three separate grants from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) totaling over $1.8 million. In February, she and the rest of the state’s Congressional delegation called on the FAA to keep the Manchester Air Traffic Control Tower open overnight. The Administration ultimately complied with the request and stated it would not close the tower overnight. In 2013, the Congresswoman and 19 House colleagues successfully pushed the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to maintain control of airport exit lanes, which will save the airport approximately $225,000 annually.

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association: Collaboration Resulting in NextGen Success, Funding Uncertainty Creates Challenges

air traffic controller

NATCA LOGOWASHINGTON – National Air Traffic Controllers Association President Paul Rinaldi told the Senate Aviation Subcommittee today that the successful implementation of NextGen modernization, which NATCA fully supports, is underway. He said the progress has been fueled by strong and effective collaboration involving NATCA, the FAA, and other aviation stakeholders. The results, he added, are “much-needed improvements that will increase the safety and efficiency of the National Airspace System (NAS).”

Rinaldi also expressed NATCA’s concern that the progress could be undermined by the lack of stable funding for these important modernization projects. In the past year, mandatory sequestration cuts resulted in furloughs at the FAA that slowed or halted several essential NextGen projects.

“Funding uncertainty has also created a stop-and-go pace that adds cost overruns as air traffic controllers must be retrained each time a project is halted – lost time becomes lost money, and lost opportunity to reap the benefits of these modernizations,” he said.

Rinaldi’s full written testimony for the Subcommittee’s hearing, “NextGen: A Review of Progress, Challenges, and Opportunities for Improving Aviation Safety and Efficiency,” is located here

NextGen modernization will allow the FAA to meet increased capacity demand while improving the safety and efficiency of the NAS, reducing delays, and protecting the environment. NextGen projects are transforming the NAS by using new and existing technologies including satellite navigation, advanced digital communications, and enhanced connectivity between all components of the NAS.

“NATCA is proud to be involved in all aspects of the process as an essential stakeholder,” Rinaldi testified. “NATCA and the FAA both recognize that stakeholder involvement is the key to continued success to NextGen. We applaud the Committee for their efforts to ensure this collaboration through the stakeholder involvement provision in the 2012 FAA Reauthorization Act. In addition to being present on NextGen projects, NATCA is represented as a member of the RTCA, the FAA Management Advisory Council (MAC), and the NextGen Advisory Committee. Our presence, as well as that of other industry leaders, has been an important addition to the discussion on modernization.”

Other highlights of NATCA’s testimony, which provided several examples of how NextGen projects are already benefiting the NAS, include:

Houston – Optimization of Airspace & Procedures in the Metroplex (OAPM): OAPM study teams rely on current aircraft navigation capabilities to enhance airport arrival and departure paths, provide diverging departure paths to get aircraft off the ground more quickly, and add more direct, high-altitude Area Navigation (RNAV) navigation routes between metroplexes. These changes reduce fuel consumption, providing economic benefits for airlines as well as benefits for the environment.

Gulf of Mexico – Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B): ADS-B, one of the cornerstone components of NextGen, is a form of surveillance that will replace traditional radar as the primary surveillance method in the NAS. ADS-B involves the broadcast of the GPS-derived position report of an aircraft or vehicle. As this technology continues to evolve and aircraft equip with ADS-B Avionics, controllers will see an increase in surveillance coverage not provided by traditional radar sources. At this time, the FAA has completed the physical infrastructure of the ADS-B network. Additionally, they have successfully integrated ADS-B data into existing ATC automation systems, meaning that air traffic controllers can see the new ADS-B information.

Colorado – Wide Area Multilateration (WAM): WAM is an independent, cooperative surveillance technology based on the same time difference of arrival principles that are used on an airport surface. Several ground-based receiving stations listen to signals transmitted from an aircraft and then mathematically calculate its position in three dimensions. This data is transmitted to screens viewed by air traffic controllers for separation of aircraft. WAM can interface to terminal or en-route automation systems.

Phoenix – Performance Based Navigation (PBN): The development and implementation of PBN will create more defined routing for aircraft, which ultimately increases the number of aircraft that controllers can direct. These new procedures will improve the fuel efficiency for the airlines and create safer and more efficient procedures for air traffic.

Memphis – Re-Categorization of Separation Standards (RECAT): Experts in wake turbulence, safety, and risk analysis have determined that decreasing separation between similar type aircraft is as safe, or safer than, current standards and increases efficiency and capacity, meaning that like other NextGen projects, RECAT has the capacity to enhance safety, reduce delays, save fuel, and reduce aviation’s environmental impact.

Newark –Data Communications (DataComm): DataComm will reduce frequency congestion by allowing the controller and pilot to communicate directly via digital communication (much like a text message). It will also reduce confusion because the message will be in print form and not copied over the frequency. A majority of these messages will be integrated into the flight deck avionics to help save time and remove issues of incorrect data entry.

n  Atlanta –Equivalent Lateral Spacing Operations (ELSO): ELSO is a procedure that enables the world’s busiest airport to depart aircraft on diverging courses much closer than in the past. ELSO, developed by the Mitre Corporation in 2011, added two departure routes at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) due to an updated separation standard. The introduction of ELSO at ATL enables simultaneous and successive diverging departure operations by creating two departure tracks for each runway end during normal runway operations.

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association Celebrates “100 Years Of Commercial Aviation” (VIDEO)

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“One day the skies will be crisscrossed with airlines carrying freight and passengers!

Thomas Wesley Benoist, 1914
Constructed the first commercial aircraft. 

 

 

NATCA — “We Guide You Home” 

24 hours a day, 365 days a year members of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association are working to make sure that your flight gets home safe and sound.

NATCA presented this short video at their annual safety convention, Communication for Safety, where 1400 people from the aviation industry came together to talk about ways to make our worldwide air traffic system even better.

Click here to read our previous post about CFS and the Archie League Medal of Safety Awards.

If you are one of the 743.1 Million passengers who fly every year then take a moment to say “Thank You” to the men and women who “Guide You Home.”

If you are an aviation enthusiast then be sure to ‘LIKE’ NATCA on Facebook!

NATCA Honors Controllers For Quick Thinking And Lifesaving Decision Making At Archie League Awards

NATCA President Paul Rinaldi.  Image via NATCA on FLICKR, Credit Douglas Jones

NATCA hosts annual ‘Communicating For Safety‘ convention and honors the air traffic controllers who went above and beyond durning the last year.

NATCA President Paul Rinaldi.  Image via NATCA on FLICKR, Credit Douglas Jones

NATCA President Paul Rinaldi.
Image via NATCA on FLICKR, Credit Douglas Jones

Last week I was honored to attend the National Air Traffic Controllers Association’s (NATCA) premier safety convention,  ‘Communicating For Safety’ (CFS).  The annual event drew 1,400 people from across the country.  Attendees included hundreds of  NATCA air traffic controllers, FAA management, and hundreds more from the aviation industry worldwide.

CFS is broken into two parts.  One part is a convention where NATCA, the FAA, and the aviation industry show how they are working together to make the National Airspace System more efficient and safer for everyone involved.  The second part is NATCA’s Archie League Medal of Safety Awards, which highlights some of the best lifesaving moments by NATCA controllers from across the country.

The safety convention part of CFS was as diverse as the people who attended the convention.  They had industry leaders, like Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, who talked about new equipment they are designing to make it easier for controllers to interface with their radar equipment.

NATCA President Paul Rinaldi spoke at length about the political issues facing the National Airspace System.  NATCA and many other unions have been pushing back against the ‘sequester’ that is slowly starving federal organizations like the FAA.  The political gridlock in Washington is making it harder for controllers to do their jobs: major staffing shortages, cuts to equipment acquisitions budgets, and cuts to general maintenance budgets.  Politicians are putting unnecessary risk into the world’s most complex – but still the safest – air traffic system in the world.

The main focus of the CFS convention was to get real controllers together and talk openly about some of the issues facing controllers in the workforce.  These issues are the same as elsewhere in the transportation industry: including fatigue, workload-overload, complacency and distractions (i.e. cell phones and text messaging).  Controllers and managers discussed solutions to these problems.

Archie1

The Archie League Medal of Safety Awards

The Communicating for Safety convention concluded with NATCA’s annual Archie League Medal of Safety Awards banquet.  Archie League was credited as the first air traffic controller, who used two flags to signal pilots at the St. Louis Airport when it was safe to land.  NATCA honors Archie and his vision for a safer air traffic system, by highlighting some of the most dramatic, and lifesaving moments by air traffic controllers over the past year.

NATCA President Paul Rinaldi opened the awards banquet by saying, “Tonight you will laugh, you will cry, and most of all you will feel pride for your profession.”  And boy, was he right.

Watching these events unfold would make most people cringe, and vow to never fly again, until that moment where the air traffic controller comes in to save the day.  In Alaska, it was the quick thinking of the Anchorage Center controllers who used a pair of military bombers to help them make contact a lost airplane that was below their radio coverage.  In Miami, controllers averted disaster as an air carrier mistakenly taxied onto an active runway, just after another aircraft was cleared for takeoff.  In Houston, Stewart Pearcy helped guide the pilot of a single-engine Cessna 172 to safety, after the pilot was caught by a fast moving storm.

Jared Mike from Seattle Terminal Radar Approach Control safely guided a pilot through the steep mountaintops of Washington State, with precise vectors to Boeing Field, a small airport where the plane could land.  The entire time the pilot, Philip Bush, who admitted at the event that this flight “was the scariest moment in his entire life”, kept informing the controller that he could not see out front windows of the airplane because they were covered in ice.  Bush told the crowd of over 1,500 people that while he was trying to safely navigate through the mountains “it was the calming voice of Jared that helped him get through”.

Some of the presentations showed how controllers’ quick actions and professionalism during a crisis saved additional lives.

Last year Asiana flight 214 crashed at the San Francisco Airport.  Even as the tragic event unfolded, the controllers rerouted other aircraft that were on approach to the airport, and notified emergency services to get the fire equipment on the scene.

Listening to the audio replay from that day, you could hear the tears in the voice of Alexis Shirkey as she informed the surrounding air traffic facilities that the San Francisco Airport was closed due to an aircraft accident.

As the plane burst into flames, the smoke filled the sky.  Controllers in the tower watched in horror as the smoke rose and began to obscure their view of the crash site.  It was not until emergency crews arrived that the controllers in the tower knew that anyone had survived at all.

In fact, 307 passengers and crew from the Asiana flight survived the crash.  A brief moment of silence was held for the three people who lost their lives in that tragic crash.

If it was not for the quick action from this dedicated group of professionals, there is no telling how bad this could have been.  Their teamwork during this crisis showed what true professionals these men and women are.

The entire crew of the SFO Airport Tower on the tragic day.  David Caldwell, Dan Ferlito, Nicole Findlay, Russell Kipker, Dawn McMullin, Fred Naujoks, Joseph Okuda, Peter Sachs, and Alexis Shirkey Image via NATCA on FLICKR, Credit Douglas Jones

The entire crew of the SFO Airport Tower on the tragic day, in no particular order:
David Caldwell, Dan Ferlito, Nicole Findlay, Russell Kipker, Dawn McMullin, Fred Naujoks, Joseph Okuda, Peter Sachs, and Alexis Shirkey.
Image via NATCA on FLICKR, Credit Douglas Jones

The final award given at the Banquet is called the President’s Award.  This is the NATCA President’s choice for the best of the best this year.  NATCA President Paul Rinaldi had to choose between all of the dramatic life saving award winners and pick the one he thought was the best.  As you can see this was no easy task.

This year the Presidents Award went to Nunzio DiMillo from Boston’s Logan Airport.  Nunzio was working in the tower around 7pm on Sept 27th of last year.  This was a pretty typical day for Nunzio and all of the controllers at Boston Tower, with multiple aircraft looking to depart, and a line of aircraft waiting to land.

One of those aircraft waiting to depart was a Jet Blue Airlines Embraer (E)190.  The regional jet, which holds around 100 passengers, requested permission to depart and was taxing to the end of the takeoff end of the runway.  At the same time, Nunzio was working a small Cirrus (SR22) who was lining up to land, before the Jet Blue aircraft would be cleared for takeoff on the same runway.

As the Cirrus began to get closer to the runway end, Nunzio could tell something was wrong.  Nunzio a veteran controller of 23 years, quickly checked his tower radar to confirm his suspicions. The Cirrus was not lined up for the runway, but was actually about to land on the taxiway that the Jet Blue E190 was currently occupying.

Nunzio quickly told the Cirrus to ‘Go Around! Go Around!’  The Cirrus pilot did not question Nunzio; he gave the plane max power and initiated a climb.

T.R. Wood was the pilot of the Jet Blue E190 who saw the Cirrus coming at him and knew there was not much he could do to avoid it. Wood tried to maneuver the E190 off the side of the taxiway in hopes to minimize the impact with the Cirrus.  He heard the plane power up, and said as the plane passed overhead the sound from the propeller driven aircraft was “deafening”.

Wood told the crowd that his self-defense maneuver would not have saved the E190 if Nunzio had not acted.  In fact Wood talked about how his wife, and the mother of his children, was sitting right where the Cirrus would have impacted the E190.

When a complete review of the event was conducted, the Cirrus came within 30 feet of colliding with the Jet Blue aircraft.  After this event, Nunzio the consummate professional, continued to work the busy traffic session.  He worked over 90 aircraft in the hour surrounding the near disaster.

Click here to watch the video replay of Nunzio’s dramatic save.

Left to right: NATCA Executive VP Patricia Gilbert, Capt T.R. Wood, Nunzio Dimillo, NATCA President Paul Rinaldi. Credit: Douglas Jones

Left to right: NATCA Executive VP Patricia Gilbert, Capt T.R. Wood, Nunzio DiMllo, NATCA President Paul Rinaldi.
Credit: Douglas Jones

(You can see Nunzio’s acceptance speech of the Presidents Award and hear the full story from Capt Wood by clicking here.)

All of these controllers got up and accepted their awards, most of which had similar acceptance speeches.  They all thanked their co-workers, because air traffic controllers are part of a team.  They rely on each other, and they help each other in times of crisis.   They other thing they all said was, “I was just doing my job.”  Every one of these controllers went above and beyond to ensure the safety of these pilots and passengers – and all they can say is, “I was just doing my job.”

(You can view all of the award winners acceptance speeches and the video replays of their award winning events thanks to NATCA, here.)

As a member of the flying public, I would like to thank all the members of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association for their hard work and dedication to make air travel the safest form of transportation in the world.

NATCA, thank you for all you do!

 

GOP Hissy-Fit Hurts Federal Workers And Their Families

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Today is day three of the official government shutdown.  No, this is not a government slowdown or slim down, this is a government shutdown.  There are thousands of workers who are forced to go to work knowing full well they may never be paid for their work.  One example of this is our nations air traffic controllers.

Think back a minute to what happened when the air traffic controllers were furloughed as part of the sequester.  Just furloughing 5% of the controllers per day resulted in massive delays throughout the country.  Now imagine what would happen if all of those air traffic controllers were told not to come in because the government is closed?  No airplanes would be flying, people would be stranded throughout the world, and our economy would grind to a halt.   This is why even though the government is shutdown air traffic controllers and others must continue to work.

National Air Traffic Controllers Association President Paul Rinaldi condemned Congress for forcing the shutdown:

“It is unacceptable that thousands of our aviation safety professionals have been forced to stay home due to partisan posturing in Congress.”

“I implore Congress to reach an agreement to end this shutdown, which is hurtful to our nation’s aviation system, our economy and the American people.”

During the shutdown, air traffic controllers are working without pay, but essential support staff specialists have been furloughed.  Rinaldi said this is akin to a surgeon performing an operation without any staff to prep the room, clean the equipment or provide support during the surgery.

This is not the case for the 25,000 federal LIUNA construction workers. Although most military men and women have not been sent home, LIUNA’s National Guard District Council represents over 5,000 dual-status technicians, military and civilian, are subject to furloughs. Several thousand more LIUNA members working for the Indian Health Service have also been furloughed.

Below are some links to local press about LIUNA members being sent home due to the government shutdown:

All of these workers and hundreds of thousands more are now sitting at home waiting for Congress to get their act together and reopen the government.  All of this could have been avoided if the House would have sent the Senate a clean continuing resolution.  Instead the House decided to shut the government down.  There is no doubt that this shutdown is the fault of those in leadership in the U.S. House.

Right now millions of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck.  The GOP Leadership in the House has determined that federal workers can go without.   They shut down the entire government because they want to repeal a law that has already gone into effect.  It is truly sad that our elected leaders are putting working families into potential financial ruin over an ideological debate they cannot win.

At a sit-in style protest at Speaker Boehner’s office, Melissa Roseboro a federal contract worker at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, had this to say:

“As it is, I am barely able to pay my rent and put food on the table with what I make at McDonald’s in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.”

“I am forced to rely on public assistance to get by.  But this shutdown is making it impossible for me to even scrape by. Every day the government is shut down is another day I don’t have any money to feed my family. So we are here to ask House Republicans, who continue to get paid while playing politics with my job and my wages, to help us pay our bills.  My rent was due yesterday. It’s not right, and I need Congress to end this shutdown and let us work.”

AFGE President David Cox released this statement on the GOP obstructionism over the Affordable Care Act:

“The seriousness of refusing the fund the government seems to elude the members of the House who maneuvered us into this lockout.  It’s anybody’s guess what their real goals may be:  Do they enjoy creating chaos?  Do they enjoy inflicting additional hardship on the working- and middle-class employees who provide services to the American public?  Do they hate the notion of letting the uninsured buy affordable insurance, or just hate the idea that the government is helping them do so? “

“Or is this just an elaborate way to destroy the most popular and successful government programs, Social Security and Medicare? “

“President Obama has promised that he will not negotiate to end this crisis, and we strongly support that position.  Recent similar standoffs have been resolved largely on the backs of federal employees, taking away our pay, retirement, and jobs.  This time, we expect the administration to hold firm, and resist the temptation to give in by cutting federal retirement or Social Security.  There is no justification for using federal employees to pay ransom.”

The longer this government shutdown goes on the harder it will be to forget as we move into the next election.

National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) Condemns Government Shutdown

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control towerWASHINGTON – The National Air Traffic Controllers Association today condemned the shutdown of the federal government and called on Congress to end it immediately.

As a result of the shutdown, 3,000 of NATCA’s aviation safety professionals, vital to the daily function, maintenance and safety of the National Airspace System (NAS) have been furloughed. 

“It is unacceptable that thousands of our aviation safety professionals have been forced to stay home due to partisan posturing in Congress,” said NATCA President Paul Rinaldi. “I implore Congress to reach an agreement to end this shutdown, which is hurtful to our nation’s aviation system, our economy and the American people.”

During the shutdown, air traffic controllers are working without pay, but essential support staff specialists have been furloughed. Rinaldi said this is akin to a surgeon performing an operation without any staff to prep the room, clean the equipment or provide support during the surgery. In addition, controllers who train new hires will be unable to continue much of the training process. This could result in high controller attrition as frustrated trainees fall further behind in the training process. Controller hiring was already frozen due to sequestration.

Below are just a few of the thousands of projects that will be delayed or halted due to the government shutdown and furloughing of aviation safety professionals.

  • A delay in the opening of a new runway at Chicago O’Hare Airport.
  • A flight inspection scheduled for Janesville, Wis., Airport has been shut down due to the furlough of key personnel. Without an inspection, the approach into the airport will eventually be declared inoperative. This results in inefficiency for air traffic controllers and pilots, and a reduction in the margin of safety.
  • Thousands of certification projects performed by NATCA Aircraft Certification Engineers are now suspended.
  • A halt in the ELD Power Cable Replacement at Dallas Fort Worth Airport (DFW). The cable supplies power to the navigational aids on the diagonal runways at DFW. Construction planned for January will now be delayed for an undetermined amount of time.
  • A hold on hundreds of Aircraft Certification Office projects. This will result in a delay in the approval of safety related equipment modifications to aircraft going through the certification process.
  • A stop for work on Airworthiness Directives, NTSB safety recommendations and other vital safety related work performed by Aircraft Certification Engineers. This could delay the issuance and implementation of mandated safety fixes to aircraft.
  •  A delay of all projects affecting surveillance radars that feed the 100 busiest airports in the NAS.
  •  A halt in the development and implementation of navigational aids for a new runway at Fort Lauderdale airport.
  •  A halt on several runway safety projects, including glide slope relocation at Long Beach, Calif.
  • A delay in major mechanical upgrades scheduled for three air traffic control En Route Centers.

NATCA MEDIA CONTACT: Sarah Dunn, 315-796-1560

NATCA, Kuster And Shea-Porter Celebrate Passage of Bill Renaming Air Traffic Control Center in Nashua

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Patricia Clark Boston Air Route Traffic Control Center
will honor exemplary Granite State federal employee

Nashua, NH  Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) and Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) celebrated passage of a bill they introduced to designate the air route traffic control center in Nashua as the “Patricia Clark Boston Air Route Traffic Control Center” in honor of Patty Clark, a fifty-year veteran of the center. Matching legislation introduced by Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Senator Kelly Ayotte passed the Senate in March, and the bill should soon head to President Obama’s desk to be signed into law.

“Patty Clark is an exemplary federal employee whose commitment to serving her community is an inspiration to all Granite Staters,” Kuster said. “I am honored to join our entire congressional delegation in celebrating Patty’s 50 years of dedicated service, and look forward to visiting the center once it is officially renamed.”

“Patty has been an inspiration to her coworkers and has shown great dedication to her job and the people she serves,” Shea-Porter said. “She makes all of us public servants proud!”

“All of us who have worked at Boston Center are thrilled to see Patty receive this great recognition which she so richly deserves,” added Mike Robicheau, New England Regional Vice President for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. “We consider her the ‘rock’ at the facility. Everything is taken care of because of her. Patty is tremendously dedicated to public service and exemplifies the very best qualities of federal employees. It’s special people like Patty who make working at a place like Boston Center so enjoyable.”

Earlier this month, Kuster and Shea-Porter sent a letter to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor urging him to allow a vote on the legislation. The full text of their letter is below.

This is the video of Congresswoman Kuster advocate for the name change.

June 6, 2013
The Honorable Eric Cantor
Majority Leader
United States House of Representatives
H-329, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Leader Cantor:

As you plan the legislative agenda in the House of Representatives for the coming weeks, we urge you to schedule for consideration H.R. 1092, a bill to designate the air route traffic control center located in Nashua, New Hampshire, as the “Patricia Clark Boston Air Route Traffic Control Center.”

This bill, which we introduced together, would recognize the dedication of Patty Clark, an exemplary federal employee who has worked at the center since it opened fifty years ago.  Ms. Clark is responsible for administrative functions including scheduling, travel arrangements, and payroll, and is held in high regard by her colleagues at the Center.  Remarkably, Patty has never even taken a sick day during her entire tenure working for the federal government!

H.R. 1092 was reported out of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on May 16, 2013 by voice vote, and is a companion measure to S. 540, which was introduced in the Senate by Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Senator Kelly Ayotte.  That measure was discharged by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and passed the full Senate by unanimous consent on March 21, 2013.

This bipartisan, no cost legislation would honor a model federal employee who has dedicated her life to public service, and we hope that you will schedule H.R. 1092 for consideration by the full House of Representatives in the very near future.

 

Workers at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Call On Congress To Repeal Sequestration

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Rally
Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

All Photos Credit Nora Fredrickson

Over 50 Granite Staters demand no benefit cuts for Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard workers joined air traffic controllers, shipbuilders from Bath Ironworks, seniors and Seacoast residents in demanding an end to sequestration in a rally at the shipyard on Thursday, March 21st.

Mark Mackenzie at PNS Rally

Since sequestration went into effect on March 1st, the across-the-board cuts are expected to cut 750,000 jobs nationwide. Nearly five thousand workers at the shipyard are facing furloughs, the impact of which is certain to be felt throughout the Seacoast, while sequestration will cost Granite Staters $28,481,311 in non-defense funding for critical programs.

“Congress created sequestration, and Congress can make it go away,” said New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie. “While Republicans continue playing their hostage-taking games, working families in New Hampshire are suffering real consequences in the form of lost jobs, furloughed pay and devastating cuts to programs that support the health and wellbeing of our children, seniors and the working poor. It is time for Congress to end these drastic and irresponsible cuts to the services working people need and instead close tax loopholes that only benefit the wealthy and corporations.”

Paul O'Connor

Paul O’Connor, President of the Seacoast Metal Trades Council

Paul O’Connor, president of the Seacoast Metal Trades Council, argued that the cuts are a senseless response to a home-brewed crisis. “Remember, as we struggle to make ends meet, as we fall deeper and deeper in debt and our families struggle through the stress, as financial instability impacts our ability to maintain security clearances, and as nuclear submarines begin to stack-up awaiting required maintenance, as all that happens, remember, sequestration was manufactured.”

Patte Ardizzoni, the administrator for Rockingham County’s Community Action Project Agency, said that sequestration will disproportionately hit seniors, the poor and disabled. “The issue of sequestration prompts a conversation that involves the adverse impact of financial cuts on crisis programming budgets, delivery of those programs in community action and the inability to serve the numbers that present themselves. Shrinking Head Start classroom numbers, fewer slots available for Fuel Assistance, a lightening of food allotment choices and amounts, and decreased crisis office hours are just the beginning of this very difficult conversation.”

Jay Bowers, Air Traffic Controller and NATCA Member

Jay Bowers, Air Traffic Controller and NATCA Member

Representatives from the National Air Traffic Controllers Association also testified about the impact that sequestration will have on air travelers. Over 15,000 air traffic controllers nationwide are facing furloughs and hundreds more employed through contract towers are expected to be laid off.

In a brief statement after the event, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter said:

“I stand with local workers and businesses in opposition to sequestration’s irresponsible and reckless cuts. I cannot understand why the House majority repeatedly blocked a vote on legislation that would have stopped sequestration for calendar year 2013. Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is critical for both our national defense and local economy, and I will continue to support efforts to cancel sequestration.”

NATCA Honors Top Controller Saves at Ninth Annual Awards Ceremony

air traffic controller

Two St. Louis Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) air traffic controllers guided to safety the Navy pilot of an F18, who was caught in bad weather, missed the approach to two airports and had low fuel. A Fort Worth Center air traffic controller’s repeated communication saved the life of a pilot who didn’t know he was experiencing hypoxia. A Tampa Tower/TRACON air traffic controller guided to a safe landing a pilot who lost control of his aircraft shortly after takeoff.

These remarkable flight assists, and six others from around the country were honored last night at the National Air Traffic Controllers Association’s (NATCA) ninth annual Archie League Medal of Safety Awards banquet. Named for the first air traffic controller, the NATCA Archie League Awards honor the top skill, dedication and professionalism that NATCA members demonstrated in 2012 in the pursuit to save lives in emergency situations.

“These assists are the finest examples of air traffic control professionalism and skill,” said NATCA President Paul Rinaldi. “They exemplify the work that’s done in every facility, every single day, keeping the world’s most complex aviation system at its safest.”

“I am proud to honor these controllers for their remarkable work,” said NATCA Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert. “These men and women each displayed the composure, resourcefulness and quick-thinking that defines our profession, and that saves lives.”

Read and listen to the dramatic life saving work of these dedicated safety professionals.

Alaskan Region: Ryan Williams, Anchorage Center (ZAN)

Central Region: Kevin Cook and Steve Clark, St. Louis TRACON (T75)

Eastern Region: Dave Giberson and Corey Grafe, Philadelphia Tower (PHL)

Great Lakes Region: Jeff Richards, Chicago Center (ZAU)

New England Region: Erik Anderson, Boston Tower (BOS)

Northwest Mountain Region: Donovan Carson, Portland TRACON (P80)

Southern Region: Bill Sullivan, Tampa Tower/TRACON (TPA)

Southwest Region: LouElla Hollingsworth, Fort Worth Center (ZFW)

Western Pacific Region: Emily Birkland and Roy Teshima, Oakland Center (ZOA) 

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association represents over 20,000 highly skilled controllers, engineers and other safety-related professionals.

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