The Michigan Daily-Wednesday, March 16,1983-Page 5
Air traffic shouldn't increase
WASHINGTON (AP) - The chairman of the
National Transportation Safety Board said
yesterday that the government is allowing air
traffic to reach normal levels too quickly amid
continuing questions about the training and'
long hours of air traffic controllers.
The Federal Aviation Administration ordered
strict ceilings on air traffic after the 1981 con-
trollers' strike and firing of 11,500 controllers,
but FAA officials say they intend to lift all
retrictions by the end of the year.
IHE VOLUME of traffic nationwide is ex-
pected to return to prestrike levels by next
fdnth, although there are still far fewer con-
tiollers working than before the strike and
many supervisors are still directing aircraft,
rather than only watching over their staffs.
Jim Burnett, chairman of the NTSB,
suggested the FAA should slow down its push
to lift restrictions, which have limited air traf-
fic at 20 major airports.
"I feel that we're dropping the traffic con-
trols faster than we should," Burnett
remarked during a break in the board's
discussions of a three-month study of the con-
trol system by an NTSB task force.
HE SAID IN an interview later that he has
been concerned about the pace at which the
FAA is returnng traffic levels ever since the
"We need to concentrate on keeping the traf-
fic levels at a more appropriate level and not
letting that get out of hand," he said. "I think
the priority should be getting the supervisors
back to supervising . . . getting work hours
down to a regular work week."
He said the FAA's goals should also include
establishing a "more relaxed environment,"
along with returning to a regular 40-hour work
week, and improving training "rather than
trying to get the traffic levels back."
BURNETT SAID he does not want to imply
that the airways are unsafe, but warned that
potential problems could surface if traffic
levels are allowed to increase too quickly. Con-
cerns about fatigue, controller training, and
long working hours "can be resolved if we con-
tinue proper restrictions of aircraft," he said.
The FAA said it has about 12,000 controllers,
about half of them fully trained, and 2,000
supervisors working at air terminals and in
route control centers. The agency estimates
the staff will be at full strength of about 14,000
controllers later this year and plans to lift
restrictions at 20 major airports by the end of
The agency would continue to direct the flow
of aircraft until mid-1984 when it expects
supervisors no longer will have to handle air-
"WE'RE GOING to bring (air traffic) back as
soon as we can put without bringing it back to
the point that there's a safety hazard," insisted
FAA spokesman Fred Farrar. FAA Ad-
ministrator J. Lynn Helms repeatedly has said
that safety is his top priority when deciding
whether to lift traffic restrictions.
The NTSB, which last year concluded its first
report of the air traffic control system by
saying that air travel remains safe, is nearly
done with a second report. But the five board
members told the staff yesterday their draft
would require substantial rewriting and a final
report is not expected for several days.
Although the draft report has not been made
public, discussions between the staff and board
members made it clear that investigators con-
tinue to have concerns about controller training.
(Continued from Page 1)
discussions about the commission were
tabled until today so the committee
could hear testimony from represen-
tatives of the governor's office and the
office of State Superintendent of
Schools Phillip Runkel. Miller-Owen
sd the committee also wanted input
from some of the state's higher
;According to University Vice
President for State Relations Richard
Kennedy, the committee has asked
President Harold Shapiro to testify, but
scheduling conflicts have prevented
Shapiro from speaking yet.
,Kennedy said the University
welcomes the idea of a study so long as
the commission is instructed to pursue
learly defined goals.
"WE CAN'T have people going off in
seven different directions at once," he
Ron Bishop, director of the Senate
Advisory Committee on University Af-
fairs, said he would also welcome such
a study "as long as they don't go into it
as a witch hunt," such as searching for
specific areas to cut from the budget.
Bishop and Kennedy both agreed that
the commission could threaten the
U niversity's autonomy from the state
but they said a problem would not arise
until the group began making recom-
"(Autonomy) is an issue always
aised when there is a study of higher
education," Kennedy said. "There is
nothing wrong with the legislature or
anyone else studying higher education,
but some recommendations or actions
they take may be cause for concern."
Ie would not elaborate on what might
pose a specific threat.
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