New York Air Traffic Controllers to Urge FAA to Act Now to Protect Safety at Local Airports

Deeply concerned about the lesson of a near-collision on the runway at JFK International Airport this past July, air traffic controllers from JFK, LaGuardia and Newark Airports will today urge the Federal Aviation Administration to immediately install a state-of-the-art airport surface radar system that the National Transportation Safety Board says is an improvement over the airports' current system. The controllers -- who serve as representatives of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) -- will outline how the failure to install sufficient ground radar equipment that works in all weather conditions at the three major N.Y. airports is a danger sign and evidence that the FAA is not taking technology and modernization issues seriously.

"Recently, New York's air traffic controllers have become increasingly worried about the FAA's unwillingness to install the most modern and effective ground radar equipment," said Phil Barbarello, NATCA's Eastern regional vice president. "The NTSB has made runway incursions one of its top safety priorities, and has stated that the FAA lacks, and needs to acquire without further delay, effective means to prevent runway incursions and improve runway safety. In New York, this is a safety issue that needs to be addressed before a tragedy occurs."

Modernization failures: The FAA's current record of modernization is the story of slowing, cutting or derailing critical programs, seriously impacting passenger safety and wasting taxpayer dollars. As air traffic increases, it is imperative that controllers are given the proper tools they need to ensure safety for air passengers. Using binoculars to manage ground traffic does not work in bad weather conditions.

NATCA's "Fly Us Safe" public education campaign focuses on two serious crises facing the aviation system: an acute staffing shortage caused by FAA inaction and the agency's failure to adequately modernize and improve the infrastructure of the country's air traffic control facilities. More details about the campaign and the new television commercial can be found at the campaign's action headquarters at

WHAT: Press conference to discuss runway and taxiway safety at JFK, LaGuardia and Newark airports and the need for better surface radar equipment.

WHEN: 11 a.m. today, Wednesday, Nov. 2

WHO: Barrett Byrnes, local NATCA facility representative at JFK Control Tower; Bill McLoughlin, LaGuardia Tower NATCA representative; Russ Halleran, Newark Tower NATCA representative.

WHERE: The Louis Armstrong 1 Room at the Hilton Garden Inn-JFK Airport; 148-18 134th Street, Jamaica. 718-322-4448

Contact: Doug Church of NATCA, 202-220-9802, 301-346-8245 (cell)

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