From the "get ready for more of it" files...
Recently, only one full performance level air traffic controller was scheduled in New Hampshire tower for a four hour stretch. After three hours on position and in compliance with FAA procedure, he handed his planes to the nearest center to watch over as he took a necessary "biological break". That's FAA lingo for "potty time out".
Two planes were left in a holding pattern for 12 minutes until he was able to return to position. Twelve minutes is certainly not unreasonable considering ten flights of stairs may be in the mix for the controller to scale.
However, one of those two planes in the holding pattern contained human lungs for a transplant.
Think the shortage of air traffic controllers is not real as the FAA states? Think it won't ever effect you or someone you love? Get ready, it just might.
Even if the FAA recognized the shortage and did something about it NOW (besides the current brilliant plan of mandatory six day work weeks), it would take a few years for trainees to make full performance level.
Currently, starting pay at the FAA academy is $8 an hour. Once one makes it to a tower like Knoxville, it's a whooping $15 an hour. Anyone want the most stressful job for that kind of pay in which one mistake might result in the death of hundreds of people? Old air traffic controllers, like my man, get paid exponentially more.
Call your government representatives. They are responsible for the shut down of negotiations between the FAA and the air traffic controllers in June last year.
Really, I'm mean it, really, old air traffic controllers do not want more pay. In fact, they are willing to take paycuts. More than anything ATC's want REST, days off, to bring back limits to time on position, a reasonable plan to hire new controllers.
When we contacted our state representative before June 'o6, he voted with the FAA against air traffic controllers on the basis that he believed my husband wanted more money. Ridiculous!
Don't let politics compromise air safety.
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