NATCA supports proposed bill to keep FAA open during shutdowns

NATCA said it would strongly support legislation that would allow the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to tap aviation trust funds in an effort to remain open, even if politicians close the rest of the government.

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) announced its support for the Aviation Funding Stability Act of 2019, introduced by US House of Representatives Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio and Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Rick Larsen, that would authorise the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to draw from the Airport & Airway Trust Fund (AATF) in the event of a government shutdown.

The bill, HR 1108, will provide a limited, targeted way of ensuring stability for the aviation system by ensuring that all FAA programmes, projects, and activities would continue uninterrupted.

NATCA President Paul Rinaldi said, after careful review and consideration, the union had decided to strongly support the bill because it fully aligns with NATCA’s policies, practices, and core principles.

Rinaldi stated: “There is no doubt that the status quo is broken and has been for some time. The 35-day shutdown was just the latest of many instances in which FAA, its workforce, and the aviation industry were held hostage by a political fight that had nothing to do with aviation. Stop-and-go funding crises wreak havoc on the personal lives of air traffic controllers and other aviation safety professionals, degrade the safety of the National Airspace System, delay critical modernisation and infrastructure projects, and exacerbate the current controller staffing crisis.

“During the 35-day shutdown, our members experienced financial stress due to a lack of income, which led to distractions and significant fatigue for people who need to be 100 percent focused on safety. We absolutely cannot endure even one more day living and working under a government shutdown. Our aviation system, which is a national treasure, deserves better. The system requires a stable, predictable funding stream. Chairman DeFazio’s bill provides a better way and it has our full support.”

NATCA said its position on ATC reform remains unchanged. In order to receive NATCA’s support, the proposed legislation must meet our Four Core Principles for Reform. NATCA has meticulously reviewed the details and implications of this proposed legislation, and has determined that it would:

  • Ensure the frontline workforce is protected in its employment relationship;
  • Ensure safety and efficiency remain the top priorities;
  • Provide for a stable, predictable funding stream that adequately supports air traffic control services, staffing, hiring and training, long-term modernization, preventative maintenance, and ongoing modernization to infrastructure; and
  • Maintain a dynamic aviation system that continues to provide services to all users, areas, and segments of the aviation community.

Read Shutdown left US aviation system under intense pressure, impact to be felt for years