Yakym Leads Nearly 140 House Members in Urging Final FAA Bill Address Air Traffic Controller Shortage

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, Rep. Rudy Yakym (IN-02), along with Reps. Dina Titus (NV-01), Bill Posey (FL-08), Pete Stauber (MN-08), Val Hoyle (OR-04), and Julia Brownley (CA-26) led nearly 140 Members of Congress in a bipartisan letter urging that any final Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization legislation include provisions to address the current shortage of air traffic controllers in order to ensure American aviation safety. 

The letter, which was sent to House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Sam Graves and Ranking Member Rick Larsen, along with Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell and Ranking Member Ted Cruz, implores that the final FAA bill include House-passed language to increase air traffic controller staffing by requiring the FAA to conduct maximum hiring of new controllers as well as revise its current controller staffing model.

“Addressing our country’s ongoing shortage of air traffic controllers is part and parcel to maintaining America’s gold standard in aviation safety,” said Rep. Yakym. “We have an obligation to do everything we can to ensure Americans’ safety in our skies, and Congress has that opportunity by making sure robust air traffic controller staffing and hiring is part of the final FAA Reauthorization package.”

“There is an urgent need to address the shortage of air traffic controllers to ensure travelers and cargo continue to move safely and efficiently,” said Rep. Titus. “In the House, we have made great bipartisan strides to see that the FAA revises its current controller staffing model and conducts the maximum hiring of new controllers. Those provisions must be retained in the final FAA Re-Authorization bill.” 

“America’s air traffic controllers play an integral role in ensuring our nation’s airports run smoothly and travelers reach their intended destinations safely,” said Rep. Stauber. “As our nation faces a shortage of air traffic controllers, it is imperative that Congress work in a bipartisan fashion to ensure any FAA reauthorization legislation that heads to President Biden’s desk includes language to require the FAA to improve the hiring and retention of these critical workers so we can continue to make air travel as safe as possible.”

“Our country is facing an air traffic controller shortage and I’m proud to join my colleagues in urging passage of provisions in the FAA Reauthorization bill,” said Rep. Hoyle. “This comprehensive package will ramp up efforts to recruit, hire, and train new air traffic controllers and ensure the safety of our aviation system. It’s not just about delays. People are overworked and are using outmoded equipment resulting in several near misses in the air this year alone. It’s beyond time to clean up this mess, increase staffing and enhance hiring practices so controllers can get the support and rest they deserve.”

“Congress has a responsibility to ensure our national airspace system remains the safest in the world, and adequate staffing for our air traffic control facilities is an essential component,” said Rep. Brownley. “I am proud that we’ve built a strong bipartisan coalition to address these issues in the FAA reauthorization legislation, and I look forward to working together to get this important legislation across the finish line.” 

A copy of the letter can be found HERE, and the full text of the letter with the list of signers is below: 

Dear Chairman Graves, Ranking Member Larsen, Chairwoman Cantwell, and Ranking Member Cruz,

We appreciate the House reaching a broad bipartisan consensus to improve our aviation system by passing the Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act (H.R. 3935) earlier this year. The House’s passage of this FAA Reauthorization package, with strong support on both sides of the aisle, is a testament to our tireless efforts to address the challenges facing our National Aviation System (NAS).

In that same bipartisan spirit, we write to reiterate our strong support for provisions included in H.R. 3935 to improve air traffic controller staffing and hiring, without which the NAS will struggle to meet current and future demands. Specifically, during future negotiations between both chambers, we urge you to ensure that any final FAA reauthorization legislation sent to the President’s desk retains Section 314 of the House-passed bill. The inclusion of this provision will ensure the FAA conducts maximum hiring of new controllers for the next five fiscal years, as well as require the agency to revise its controller staffing model to include updated, more accurate hiring targets.

Today, there are approximately 1,200 fewer fully certified air traffic controllers than 10 years ago. This shortage of certified air traffic controllers has created inefficiencies in our aviation system, straining the frontline workforce and negatively affecting the travel economy. As a result, the FAA has implemented mandatory overtime for many air traffic controllers, including 10-hour days and six-day workweeks, which has increased stress and fatigue within a profession that is integral to the safety of our skies.

The status quo is unsustainable as the FAA’s current finance-driven staffing model and inconsistent hiring practices have persisted for more than a decade across multiple administrations. Even more concerning, a Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General report issued in June 2023 found that, “FAA continues to face staffing challenges and lacks a plan to address them, which in turn poses a risk to the continuity of air traffic operations.”

A commitment to increase air traffic controller staffing is broadly supported among a diverse group of aviation stakeholders, including commercial airlines, business aviation, private pilots, and labor organizations representing controllers, pilots, flight attendants, aircraft mechanics, and ground support personnel.

The FAA reauthorization process presents a unique opportunity to improve controller staffing in a sustained and comprehensive manner. If Congress misses this opportunity, the NAS will be hard-pressed to manage current air traffic levels, let alone expand to integrate new entrants such as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) operations.

Now is the time for a more proactive and intentional approach to addressing the ongoing shortage of air traffic controllers.

Thank you for your continued leadership and efforts to address this critical issue. We look forward to continuing to work with you on enacting a long-term FAA reauthorization bill into law that will ensure the continued safety of the NAS.


Sincerely,

Rudy Yakym, Dina Titus, Bill Posey, Pete Stauber, Val Hoyle, Julia Brownley, Colin Allred, Don Bacon, Andy Barr, Nanette Barragan, Aaron Bean, Jack Bergman, Earl Blumenauer, Mike Bost, Nikki Budzinski, Cori Bush, Ken Calvert, Yadira Caraveo, Tony Cárdenas, Buddy Carter, Greg Casar, Sean Casten, Kathy Castor, Joaquin Castro, Lori Chavez-DeRemer, Juan Ciscomani, Emanuel Cleaver, Mike Collins, Gerry Connolly, Henry Cuellar, Sharice Davids, Donald Davis, Danny Davis, Mark DeSaulnier, Anthony D’Esposito, Mario Diaz-Balart, Debbie Dingell, Lloyd Doggett, Jake Ellzey, Drew Ferguson, Brian Fitzpatrick, Lizzie Fletcher, Mike Flood, Bill Foster, Valerie Foushee, Lois Frankel, Maxwell Frost, Ruben Gallego, John Garamendi, Andrew Garbarino, Mike Garcia, Robert Garcia, Jesus García, Carlos Gimenez, Jimmy Gomez, Tony Gonzales, Vicente Gonzalez, Paul Gosar, Josh Gottheimer, Michael Guest, Brian Higgins, Steven Horsford, Hank Johnson, Thomas Kean, Robin Kelly, Ro Khanna, Jennifer Kiggans, Young Kim, Andy Kim, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Ann Kuster, Darin LaHood, Nick LaLota, Greg Landsman, Nicholas Langworthy, Jake LaTurner, Mike Lawler, Barbara Lee, Zoe Lofgren, Frank Lucas, Tracey Mann, Doris Matsui, Betty McCollum, Morgan McGarvey, Robert Menendez, Grace Meng, Kweisi Mfume, Marc Molinaro, John Moolenaar, Gwen Moore, Joe Morelle, Jared Moskowitz, Seth Moulton, Kevin Mullin, Jerrold Nadler, Grace Napolitano, Wiley Nickel, Donald Norcross, Eleanor Norton, Bill Pascrell, Donald Payne, Greg Pence, Brittany Pettersen, Mark Pocan, Mike Quigley, Delia Ramirez, Guy Reschenthaler, Hal Rogers, John Rose, Deborah Ross, Dutch Ruppersberger, Maria Salazar, Janice Schakowsky, Bradley Schneider, Kim Schrier, Brad Sherman, Mike Simpson, Christopher Smith, Adrian Smith, Eric Sorensen, Darren Soto, Melanie Stansbury, Marilyn Strickland, Emilia Sykes, Mark Takano, Shri Thanedar, Jill Tokuda, Ritchie Torres, Lauren Underwood, David Valadao, Gabe Vasquez, Marc Veasey, Maxine Waters, Randy Weber, Jennifer Wexton, Frederica Wilson, Robert Wittman, Steve Womack

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