Former Union Leader In Line for FAA Post

Obama team hopes labor support can help reform aviation industry
By Gabriel Winant,  Newser User
Posted Nov 21, 2008 9:07 AM CST
Air traffic controller Karl Haynes Jr. stands beneath a radar screen in the control tower at Washington's Reagan National Airport, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2008.    (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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(Newser) – Barack Obama’s hoping to bring about long-needed reforms in aviation, but to do it, he’ll need the support of organized labor. Hence, reports the Wall Street Journal, the frontrunner for the top job at the Federal Aviation Administration is the head of the former pilots union, Duane Woerth. Air-traffic controllers have complained about low pay, understaffing, and authoritarian work environments; addressing their grievances will be key to advancing reform.

In addition to changes in the workplace, air-traffic control is in need of a major technological upgrade. Its basic technology is still WWII-era radar, rather than GPS. However, current predictions don’t have new technology in place until 2020. The Obama administration hopes to accomplish this sooner, using labor as an ally to pressure the Democratic Congress.