Aviation Safety:

Conditions Within the Air Traffic Control Work Force

RCED-89-113FS: Published: Apr 24, 1989. Publicly Released: May 25, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided the results of its 1988 questionnaire of air traffic controllers, supervisors, and facility managers on air traffic issues facing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), including work load, staffing, overtime, training, morale, and system safety. GAO compared the 1988 responses with those of its 1985 survey.

GAO found that controllers generally believed that: (1) they were required to handle too much traffic; (2) they needed more overtime to cover training, leave, and other duties; (3) there was a shortage of both developmental and full-performance-level controllers; (4) the quality of several essential areas of training provided to developmental controllers was inadequate; (5) their morale was low; and (6) certain factors hindered FAA ability to maintain system safety. GAO also found that: (1) supervisors reported, to a lesser extent, similar concerns; and (2) facility managers viewed conditions more positively.