Q.How many air traffic controllers currently work in the Chicago TRACON?
A. There are currently
102 96 90 88 87 men and women currently assigned as air traffic controllers in the Chicago TRACON.
Q. Is that a lot? A little?
A.We feel it is not adequate. And with the announcement of the 440 extra operations a day at O'Hare, 106 of them are already here, and the continued doubling of traffic at Midway, it's approaching unacceptable. Dallas TRACON currently has 102 and they work the same amount of traffic as Chicago. If you combined the air traffic from both Chicago and Dallas together, you'd have the worlds busiest TRACON with only 190 controllers. The New York TRACON in contrast has 251 air traffic controllers and runs 700,000 operations less a year the Dallas and Chicago combined. So the answer is, it's a little, too little.
Q.Aren't the airports in New York packed close together? Isn't that why they have so many controllers?
A. Yes, they have a very complex area. We are not saying New York has too many controllers. Look at the Southern California TRACON. They have even more controllers then New York, with 260. And don't forget about Dallas Love and Chicago Midway. They are two of the world's busiest airports and very close to O'Hare and DFW.
Q.Doesn't the Southern California TRACON run more traffic then any other TRACON?
A. Yes, but they still run 400,000 operation less than Chicago and Dallas combined, with almost twice as many controllers.
We are sounding a warning. We are not the only facility short on controllers. Look at Los Angeles Tower. If they had an extra set of eyes watching the operation, the tragedy there may not have happened. They only have 38 controllers. The 4th busiest airport in the world! By contrast Las Vegas has 45, Denver and Phoenix both have 44. These airports all run less traffic then LAX. Look at La Guardia in New York. It has 37 air traffic controllers, that is just one less than LAX, but LAX runs more than twice as many operations as La Guardia.
The PATCO strike was nineteen years ago. Some controllers hired right after the strike will be eligible for retirement next year. All controllers hired in 1981 will be eligible for retirement in 6 years. Combine the looming exodus with the coming traffic and we've got a serious problem.