FAA Is Making Air Traffic Control Procedures at New Orleans International Airport More Efficient

CED-81-64: Published: Feb 27, 1981. Publicly Released: Mar 25, 1981.

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GAO evaluated a series of allegations about air traffic control operations at the New Orleans International Airport submitted to it by air traffic controllers of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The FAA air traffic control procedures and airspace allocations at the airport have problems that result in increased coordination difficulties and work load for the air traffic controllers. Changes are being proposed to handle traffic more efficiently. There is a long history of labor-management problems at the facility. Controllers are filing grievances asking for punitive actions against supervisors. Management's response to the controllers' allegations gives little credence to their concerns and takes the position that, since the controllers participated in the development of the facility's air traffic control procedures, they must now live with them. FAA decertified, demoted, and transferred one of the controllers because it concluded that he could not consistently apply required air traffic control procedures. This action polarized the two sides on practically all issues at the facility. An arbitrator directed FAA to reinstate the controller and to offer him a reasonable amount of training for recertification. Controllers describe communications as poor, but management believes they are satisfactory. The en mass resignation of controllers from a technical advisory committee designed to promote controller participation in the development of plans and procedures also adversely affected communications.