Conditions Within the Air Traffic Control Work Force at Six FAA Facilities

Published: Mar 3, 1986. Publicly Released: Mar 3, 1986.

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GAo discussed conditions within the controller work force at the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) air traffic control (ATC) facilities serving northern New Jersey. GAO found that FAA does not have as many fully qualified, experienced controllers at some of these facilities as managers, supervisors, and controllers believe are needed, and the problem cannot be resolved in the short term. In addition, GAO found that: (1) FAA could lose more supervisors and controllers through retirement than expected; (2) air traffic activity is such that controllers and their supervisors believe they are overworked during peak traffic periods; (3) controllers work at radar positions during peak periods without a break or change of position for longer periods than FAA policy dictates; and (4) controllers and supervisors feel that the overtime requirements, which are likely to remain high, are negatively affecting their ability to perform their duties. GAO also found that the ATC system is operated with fewer controllers and far fewer full-performance-level (FPL) controllers than before the August 1981 strike. At a time when air traffic activity has increased by over 18 percent, the total number of controllers serving northern New Jersey has been reduced by over 40 percent and the number of FPL controllers by 44 percent, without the benefit of planned labor-saving automation.