Air traffic control cuts just latest ruse by Obama
April 25, 2013 10:07 PM | 851 views | 4 4 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DEAR EDITOR:

I had to chuckle when reading the planned “furlough” of air traffic controllers due to the “sequester.”

In 1984, I retired from the Air Force after 25 years as an air traffic controller. Six weeks prior to my retirement and while still on duty in Germany, I received a call from a contract air traffic control services company out of Kansas offering me the chief controller position at Otis Control Tower in Falmouth, Mass. (Cape Cod). This was a 24/7 control tower that FAA PATCO union controllers had walked out of and were summarily fired by President Reagan.

I hired former USAF controllers that had worked at busy fighter bases (I was not allowed to hire former FAA PATCO controllers). This was a three-position tower and as the tower was low-traffic density (60,000) operations per year, I operated the tower with two controllers on the day shift, two on the swing (evening) shift, and one controller on the midnight shift. During the day and swing shifts I combined the flight data and ground control positions. I filled in for absences due to sickness, vacations, etc. The total staffing for the tower was eight (8) controllers counting me.

Here is the interesting part. When the FAA had the tower, their staffing was 22 controllers (not counting the chief controller) and the pilots told me they (the FAA) were always trying to “kill” them (near misses, cleared to land/takeoff with vehicles on the runway, etc.).

During my 27-year ATC career, I worked at a number of “joint use” (FAA/USAF) ATC facilities such as the Dayton (Ohio) TRACON, Will Rogers (Oklahoma City) TRACON, and at Alexandria, LA. The FAA was always way overstaffed and I can tell you the PATCO union controllers were the biggest crybabies I have ever seen (and they slept on the midnight shift, too).

When 11,000 of these crybabies walked, their rallying cry was “They can’t do it without us.” Of course we could do it without them — the USAF and FAA had put a strike contingency plan together six months before the strike. The USAF staffed the FAA facilities (with less than one third of the original FAA PATCO staff), trained new controllers, and the rest is history.

I haven’t been in Air Traffic Control since ’87, but I can assure you the FAA, like most government agencies, is “fat” when it comes to their staff. I can also assure you the planned FAA “furlough” is a ruse to punish the public for the “sequester” (which Obama came up with in 2011). Unbelievable.



Steve Morris

Marietta
Comments
(4)
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Kevin Foley
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April 26, 2013
You haven't been in ATC since 1987, but you know the FAA has too many employees? How would you know that? Are you clairvoyant?

The sequester was a bipartisan plan that aimed to force compromise. Both sides agreed to it. The head of the FAA and the secretary of transportation repeatedly warned there would be ATC furloughs before it went into effect and the GOP ignored them.
Steve Morris
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April 26, 2013
Kevin,

You don't have to be clarivoyant when left wing Democrats are runing (or should that be ruining?) the country. I know that when you have (today) 15,000 FAA controllers, you are over staffed.

The FAA will spend more money this year than last year and our President was offered the ability to target cuts in the rate of increased spending within each department, but refused. BO is throwing another hissy fit because he didn't get more tax increases.

I love your columns, Kevin. They are a reminder of how we got into the mess we are in.
Steve Morris
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April 26, 2013
Oh my, Kevin. Congress just passed a bill that authorizes the Dept. of Transportation to move money from a few of their boondogles to prevent the furlough of controllers.

Darn those Republicans. How can we soak the rich with additional taxes without making it painful for the flying public?
Kevin Foley
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April 27, 2013
@ Morris - yep, when enough Republican congressmen and senators have to sit on the tarmac at National Airport and Dulles for a couple of hours, the cry babies change things pronto. Conservatives want cuts to federal spending until those cuts hit them in the head.

Read my latest column and find out why you're cheering for the wrong team, Steve!
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