Since the Wright brothers completed their first powered flight in 1903, aviation has captured the public’s imagination.
While the entire public and private sector aviation workforce works in unison to operate and maintain the world’s safest air transportation system, the unsung heroes of the sky are often the air traffic controllers who safely guide millions of flights a year inside the world’s most complex and complicated airspace system.
Tomorrow is the National Air Traffic Controllers Association’s (NATCA) 25th anniversary. We invite you to join TTD in thanking NATCA’s 20,000 controllers, engineers and other safety professionals for all the hard work they do under the radar, for maintaining America’s air safety record while using 1950s era technology.
Founded in 1987, the union represents 17 different bargaining units from DOD controllers at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point to nurses in several FAA regional Aerospace Medicine offices to budget, policy analysts and accountants who work on the FAA budget.
Throughout its history, NATCA has been both a fierce advocate on behalf of its members and an unwavering voice in support of aviation safety. When some in Congress wanted to recklessly outsource air traffic control to the lowest bidder, NATCA simply said “not on our watch” and waged the fight that had to be fought — and won. When the previous Administration refused to engage in good faith collective bargaining and implemented terms that suited only management, NATCA never wavered. The union explained to the public why collective bargaining mattered and why safety and staffing were at risk when the rights of front-line workers were ignored.
Today, the policies of the previous Administration have been reversed and the law governing collective bargaining at the agency has been fixed. And through all the fights and battles, NATCA has always been an effective advocate on behalf of air traffic control investment and technology improvement. “Safety Above All” is more than a motto or a slogan for NATCA – it is how they go about their business every day.
Last year alone the men and women who staff control towers, control centers, TRACON facilities, and flight service stations made it possible for 134 million flight operations. Every day they work to make sure more than 750,000 flyers get to where they need to go. It doesn’t matter if you are behind the controls of a two-seater high-wing flying solo, or piloting the heavy iron with 200 onboard, controllers are there to handle any situation, any distress call.
So, next time you walk off an airplane, or perhaps land your own aircraft, take a moment to gaze up at that tower and remember the air traffic controllers who brought you in for that landing, those down below studying the radar, and everyone supporting them behind the scenes.
Thanks NATCA. For all you do, we salute you.