FAA Reliance on Outside Telecommunications Contractors Results in Delays for California Air Travelers

SAN DIEGO, CA - California air travelers endured delays due to the FAA’s increasing reliance on outside contractors today, said the Professional Airways Systems Specialists (PASS), the union representing FAA systems specialists. Over 40 flights were delayed on average for over 30 minutes when contractors working with the FAA Telecommunications Infrastructure (FTI) failed to properly coordinate maintenance activity with FAA employees.

A problem with data lines was originally identified by the contractor at approximately 1:30 a.m. The contractor corrected the problem but failed to notify employees responsible for maintenance at the San Diego Air Traffic Control Tower, resulting in mounting delays. Had the contractor properly coordinated maintenance activity with FAA employees, the delays could have been avoided.

“The FAA's increased reliance on contractors to maintain the air traffic system not only is inefficient but also increases inherent risk to air travel,” said Ray Baggett, PASS regional vice president. “FAA systems specialists, who deal in the critical environment of air traffic control all day, every day, understand how coordination errors such as these impact air traffic operations and jeopardizes the safety of the flying public.”

The FAA continues to insist that these kinds of problems are growing pains with the beleaguered FTI program. “The FAA needs to wake up and realize that mixing a profit motive, associated with contracting out more and more systems maintenance, monitoring, and coordination tasks, is incompatible with a bottom line of maintaining the greatest safety margin possible for air travelers,” said Baggett.


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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 www.passnational.org.

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