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Shaheen Urges FAA to Address Air Traffic Controller Staffing Shortages Amid Recent Runway Incursion Incidents

(Washington, DC) – Ahead of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s March 15 Safety Summit, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) sent a letter to FAA Acting Administrator Billy Nolen raising the issue of air traffic controller workforce shortages as airports nationwide have faced multiple recent runway incursion incidents. In her letter, Senator Shaheen urges the FAA to make strengthening the ranks of certified professional controllers (CPCs) a focus of any comprehensive plan to bolster the safety of our National Airspace System (NAS) moving forward.

Senator Shaheen wrote, in part, “I appreciate that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have committed to duly investigate the recent incidents involving runway incursions. As you know, these incidents often involve several causal factors and I look forward to reviewing the forthcoming reports on these events and the recommendations for strengthening the FAA’s safety protocols and procedures....While the particular failures that contributed to the most recent incidents remain subject to investigation, ultimately, any effort to address the concerning rise of runway incursions and strengthen the safe and efficient use of the NAS must emphasize support for our nation’s dedicated aviation safety professionals.”

Shaheen continued, “I believe the March 15 summit should emphasize the foundational role our air traffic controllers have in the safe and efficient operation of the NAS. Strengthening our CPC workforce must be a part of any plan to avoid future incidents like those that prompted this summit and I stand ready to work with you to address these workforce challenges.”

Read the letter in full here.

Senator Shaheen is an advocate for measures that improve air passenger safety and airport operations. In 2019, Shaheen introduced the bipartisan Air Traffic Controller (ATC) Hiring Reform Act of 2019 to help improve the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) hiring process for air traffic controllers. In February 2022, Shaheen and Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) called on the FAA to improve its communication with Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (MHT) regarding  telecommunications interference with airport operations due to the 5G system rollout. As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a lead negotiator of the bipartisan infrastructure law, Shaheen has played a leading role in securing federal dollars for numerous projects across the state that invest in the safety and improvements of New Hampshire’s airports.