Employees at Hartford Airport Working Without Proper Training

HARTFORD, CT - The Professional Airways Systems Specialists (PASS), AFL-CIO, the union that represents FAA technicians, reported today that there are no properly trained and certified technicians to oversee a major piece of air traffic control equipment at Bradley International Airport in Hartford, Conn. New distance measuring equipment (DME), which provides distance information between the ground and approaching aircraft for two Bradley runways, was recently installed at the airport, but no technicians at the facility are trained to work on the equipment. By not providing this important training to the employees responsible for maintaining and certifying the equipment, the FAA is not only gambling with the reliability of the aviation system but also risking the safety of the Hartford-area flying public.

“When something goes wrong with the DME and there is no one trained and certified to fix the equipment, there would definitely be delays and there could very well be serious safety risks,” said Luke Drake, PASS regional assistant. “This is yet another example of the FAA leaving major boxes unchecked. Having the most advanced equipment is a good first step, but without anyone trained to work on it, the situation becomes very dangerous.”

The FAA has been getting by with having an employee, who is trained on the equipment, travel to the facility from another unit when there is a problem. But, that technician has recently been transferred to another state, leaving no one to tend to the DME. “Now, when there is a problem with the equipment, someone just re-sets the equipment, but nothing is really fixed,” said Drake.

As a low-cost, quick fix to the problem, the FAA is attempting to “grandfather in” one of the technicians at the facility, which would allow the person to work on the equipment without the proper training. The technician has indicated concern with the directive, stating that to comply would compromise the safety of the aviation system. The employee, who has opted to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation by FAA management, indicated concern with performing the duties without proper training.

“While PASS applauds the technician’s willingness to attempt to provide the safest service to the flying public, the fact that the FAA continues to cut corners like this is truly disturbing,” said Drake.

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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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