“Flight service controller duties will be sold to the lowest bidder with no system announced as yet to monitor the safety and security,” notes the NAATS Website.
FAA administrator Marion Blakey acknowledges, “We don’t know whether it’s something that ultimately will be staffed by federal specialists or by specialists in the area who are under private contract.”
The two sides are far from an agreement on what it costs to operate the system now, much less how much money could be saved under any new scheme. The FAA contends that each time a pilot contacts an FSS, it currently costs the government $25.
The union disagrees, saying, “Flight Service costs an average of $12 per contact until you factor in the cost of all the technical and administrative support. These support personnel are not included in any privatization or job elimination study,” claims NAATS.
On the other hand, the FAA has announced plans to hire as many as 12,500 new air traffic controllers and expedite their training to get them on the job more quickly. In 1981, President Reagan fired more than 10,000 controllers, and their replacements will begin retiring at record levels over the next few years. The FAA also is considering the possibility of allowing select controllers to work beyond the current mandatory retirement age of 56.
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