National Academies Releases Report On Systems Specialist

Today, the National Academies released its report on the staffing needs of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airway transportation systems specialists. As a result of the FAA Reauthorization and Reform

Act of 2011, the organization was tasked with providing recommendations for objective staffing standards in order to maintain the safety of the National Airspace System (NAS).

The Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, AFL-CIO (PASS), the union that represents systems specialists, who install, maintain, certify critical systems and equipment in the NAS are encouraged by the release of the report and the insight and recommendations provided by the committee.

PASS National President Mike Perrone and Vice President Rich Casey met with the National Academies to provide critical information regarding systems specialist staffing as well as a comprehensive overview of their duties and responsibilities. "Systems specialists play a vital role in ensuring the safety of this country's aviation system, and PASS has long argued insufficient staffing is a major problem at FAA facilities throughout the country," said Perrone. "PASS was instrumental in pushing for this report to address the fact that the FAA has consistently been below the agreed-upon minimum staffing level of 6,100 and recognizes that action must be taken in order to ensure sufficient staffing of this crucial workforce."

In its report, the committee called attention to the important work performed by systems specialists and the critical role they play throughout the aviation system. "A properly sized workforce helps ensure the achievement of the FAA's mission of maintaining the safety of the National Airspace System (NAS)," said the committee.

Recommendations put forth by the committee contain specific points emphasized by PASS, including ensuring that any staffing model take into consideration the various responsibilities of systems specialists, modernization of the aviation system, training of the workforce, system reliability and maintenance, and employee safety. The committee stresses the importance of reviewing any staffing model on a regular basis and seeking employee input throughout the process.

"PASS appreciates that the report specifically emphasizes the need to obtain employee input in order to ensure a successful staffing model," said Perrone. "As the report indicates, this is a considerable undertaking and there is no better judge regarding the staffing needs of systems specialists as the systems specialists themselves. As the sequestration debate continues, now is no time to be gambling with an inadequate number of systems specialists, the dedicated FAA employees who ensure the safety of the flying public."

PASS looks forward to working with the FAA on development of the systems specialist staffing model. To review the final report, please click here.

For more information or questions, please contact Kori Blalock Keller at (202) 293-7277 x110.

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For 36 years, PASS has represented 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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