Insufficient Staffing and Open Watches Causes More Problems

CLEVELAND, OH – The Professional Airways Systems Specialists (PASS, AFL-CIO) are again drawing attention to insufficient staffing levels at Cleveland Center following a radar outage last week, which could have been resolved in minutes instead of hours had the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had the appropriate shift coverage. “This is just another example of why the FAA cannot leave open watches at these facilities and expect that everything will be fine,” said Tom Brantley, national president of PASS.

Last Thursday, a radar outage occurred following a system upgrade at Cleveland Center and went unresolved for over an hour due to the fact that there was not a computer operator on duty for the facility. Luckily, one of the two computer operators was reachable and able to get to the facility to handle the situation.

Cleveland Center has been severely understaffed since January 2004. The facility mandates 24 hour-a-day, 7 day-a-week coverage, which requires a minimum of five operators, but it is currently functioning with only two operators. “Had the FAA been operating the facility with full coverage, the outage could have been corrected in minutes instead of hours,” said Brantley. “We shudder to think what would have happened had they not been able to reach one of the two operators.”

The current staffing shortages cause continuous changes to schedule assignments, often requiring personnel to work double shifts. This type of work environment and disregard for employees can result in unsafe and unhealthy working conditions. More importantly, the situation can add an unnecessary danger to the safety of the flying public.

“We have been begging the FAA to staff this facility for well over a year, but it seems our pleas have fallen on deaf ears," said Brantley. “The FAA needs to rectify the staffing shortage immediately so that when outages do occur, there is sufficient staffing on site to correct these situations without delays or threats to air safety.”


PASS represents more than 11,000 employees of the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Defense who install, maintain, support and certify air traffic control and national defense equipment, inspect and oversee the commercial and general aviation industries, develop flight procedures and perform quality analyses of the aviation systems. For more information, visit the PASS website at

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