Group Says Cuts "Expose
Budget cuts are not only a hot issue for this year's
presidential election, but also attract criticism from those in the
affected industries, especially aviation.
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) claimed
Monday's White House budget proposal exposes a major credibility
gap in the Bush Administration's aviation policy. The group
specifically criticizes the portion of the budget that proposes a
16 percent cut in spending on air traffic control facilities and
equipment, while simultaneously touting its modernization plan to
drastically add system capacity.
"The White House is saying two entirely different and
contradictory things," National Air Traffic Controllers Association
President John Carr said. "You cannot modernize the system and add
capacity by announcing there will be vastly less money to pay for
it. No way. It's well past time that we as a nation make aviation
infrastructure a national priority. Today's budget is a giant step
backward at a time when we must be moving forward."
Carr called the Administration's plan to triple air traffic
capacity in the next 15-20 years an "empty election year promise
that sounds good but doesn't add up to anything more than fuzzy
Carr explained that increasing air travel and a controller
staffing crisis, the Administration has fallen dramatically short
in hiring an adequate number of controllers that are needed to keep
our skies safe.
"Their words simply do not match their actions," he said.
"However, while the administration is slashing funds for air
traffic control in America, it is taking care to beef up Iraq's
"Just last month, the
Administration awarded Raytheon Co. a multi-million contract to
supply air traffic management systems for airports in Iraq. It is
ironic that the Administration recognizes that building and
maintaining an air traffic control system is the key to ensuring a
safe, secure and economically strong Iraq, but then cuts resources
in our own nation," Carr continued.
Carr said The FAA must devote the much-needed resources if we
want our nation's air traffic control system to remain the envy of
the world. He claims that includes "taking seriously the real
staffing challenges facing the agency as air travel increases and
controllers retire." He said it also means making sure that
modernization projects remain on track.
"Efforts to cut corners on staffing or modernization will
ultimately mean cutting corners on safety. And that's bad news for
the flying public," Carr said.
"When it comes to spending the taxpayers' money, this
Administration seems to think that exploring Mars is more important
than protecting the safety of our own air traffic control system
here on Earth. We're sure the American public disagrees," he