Reporting Lisa Fielding
CHICAGO (CBS) — Dan Carrico of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association says his O’Hare staff is working without pay and they are without critical support staff that keep the system running, people who work quality control, mapping and training.
“We’re talking about bringing in a plans and procedures person back so we can have updated maps when we need to. We’re running into an issue that if this continues much longer, we are not going to have the staff that people expect us to have.”
Carrico says not only are the current working controllers under stress, 3,000 of the current working 12,400 controllers are eligible to retire, and all training has been stopped and hiring has been frozen, so there are not people being put in the pipeline to replace them.
The NATC says controllers rely on these support staff as a part of a team to prepare and maintain their working environment; controllers working without back up during the shutdown is akin to surgeons going into operating rooms alone.
Carrico says this presents long-term problems for the nation’s aviation system. Right now, he says, it’s not comprising safety in the skies but if the shutdown goes on much longer, the furloughs will have a long term impact.