The FAA and Congress need to quickly address a disturbing trend within the nation's air traffic control system – controller errors are rising at an alarming rate. Recent data demonstrates an extraordinary increase in the number of operational errors. In 2010, the number approached an alarming 2,000 errors per year, more than double the errors last year and in 2008. So while other recently released statistics suggest the aviation safety system seems to be improving overall, particularly with respect to incidents involving major carriers, the same is not true for air traffic safety as evidenced by the increase in the number of near misses. This is easily explained. In the last few years a mass exodus of thousands of seasoned controllers has left behind countless understaffed tower cabs and radar rooms, now forced to rely upon inexperienced controllers who have not had adequate and complete training. Not surprisingly, poor planning and a lack of funding are at the core of the problem. However, as aviation safety advocates, we are certain this is an area all Americans recognize as being too important to ignore. Next to defense spending most Americans would undoubtedly agree this is a service that is vital to the American way of life and as such must be fully funded and staffed by qualified personnel who are trained to the highest standards. The flying public deserve nothing less. To allow this problem to languish unaddressed is inexcusable and creates a potentially catastrophic risk that must be avoided. Our politicians who control funding and the FAA which is responsible for staffing and training must remember that "safety delayed is safety denied."
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