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Statement of the National Association of Air Traffic Specialists
National Civil Aviation Review Commission
May 28, 1997
I. FLIGHT SERVICE: WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE DO
a. Flight Service Controllers provide pilot briefing services, en route communications, VFR and IFR search and rescue services, assist lost aircraft and aircraft in unusual and/or emergency situations, and transmit ATC clearances to private, commercial, military and government aircraft 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
b. Consolidation from more than 300 smaller facilities down to 61 Automated Flight Service Stations has resulted in a reduction of services to customers.
II. FAA FINANCING: A PROBLEM, NOT A CRISIS
a. Although the Administration's budget assumptions imply a funding "crisis," adequate resources exist with which to accomplish the FAA's mission.
b. The FAA, and particularly its AFSS system, are national assets, with substantial public benefit, which deserve resources from the general fund.
III. FAA PRODUCTIVITY: EQUIPMENT AND PERSONNEL
a. For Flight Service, the critical short-term technology requirement is for OASIS to be fully and quickly implemented as one of the original three programs of the agency's new procurement authority.
b. From a strictly economic point of view, an immediate purchase of 61 OASIS systems makes the most sense.
c. There have been virtually no new hires into Flight Service for more than 10 years. Yet, by the year 2002, 80% of the workforce will be eligible to retire.
d. While the number of FS Controllers has dropped by 997 during 1981-1995, the number of supervisory/management personnel has decreased by only six, as is detailed in the chart attached to our complete statement.
IV. FAA MODERNIZATION: PERSONNEL REFORM
a. We have been working with the FAA to establish a framework for a new personnel system, yet the FAA has delayed significant changes, and has been satisfied to tinker around the edges of reform.
b. The FAA shelved its personnel reorganization plan, and instead, is now considering one that maintains the status quo in most areas.
c. We strongly disagree with the Coopers & Lybrand study suggestion that personnel reductions in flight service are a viable area for future savings for the FAA. Instead, the FAA can save enormous personnel expenses through the elimination of unnecessary levels of management and staff.