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Congressman Tom Cole

Representing the 4th District of Oklahoma

Inhofe, Lankford, Russell, Cole and Industry Leaders Praise Senate Passage of H.R. 5785

November 30, 2016
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and James Lankford (R-Okla) and Congressmen Steve Russell (R-Okla.) and Tom Cole (R-Okla.), today praised the passage of H.R. 5785, a bill which would ensure the continued safety of our nation’s airways by eliminating an unintended barrier to the hiring and retention of full-time Air Traffic Controller (ATC) Instructors. The bill removes a financial penalty for instructors willing to work full time in training our next generation of air traffic controllers.  

“Today’s passage of the Air Traffic Controller Instructor Bill ensures the next generation of air traffic controllers is prepared to manage the complicated network of air traffic in the National Airspace System,” Inhofe said. “This legislation removes government red tape impeding efforts by the private sector to recruit and retain the highest quality full-time air traffic controller instructors to teach at the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City and provide on the job training at airports across the country. I appreciate the support of my colleagues in passing this legislation that will provide future air traffic controllers a consistent training environment with experienced instructors.”

“The passage of Congressman Russell’s bill will mean the FAA will be able to continue hiring new air traffic controllers to address the staffing shortages that exist across the nation,” Lankford said. “This bill was vital for the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City, and the training they provide for new controllers that will report to control towers and en route centers all across America. It is very important that we keep experienced air traffic control instructors to teach a new generation of air traffic control students.”

“I am proud to see this bill head to the President’s desk to be signed into law,” Russell said. “We will now help ensure that the best air traffic control instructors are incentivized to work full time, rather than penalized for investing in the next generation of controllers. This will lead to safer skies, not only in our country, but all over the world.”

“This bill is a much needed piece of legislation during a time when our nation is facing a shortage of air traffic controllers,” Cole said. “It will remove the overreaching regulations which have kept experienced and retired air traffic controllers from training future employees. Air traffic controllers play a critical role in keeping America’s skies safe and I am glad we were able to pass this important legislation when it was needed most.”

“On behalf of the hundreds of instructors in Oklahoma and across our nation, SAIC is grateful for the leadership of Senators Jim Inhofe and James Lankford as well as Congressmen Steve Russell and Tom Cole for proactively addressing this issue,” said SAIC Chief Executive Officer Tony Moraco. “We applaud this strong, bipartisan action by the U.S. Congress.”

Passage of this legislation is an important step toward improving the FAA’s training academy for air traffic controllers," said Paul Rinaldi, President of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. "Our National Airspace System is currently experiencing an air traffic control staffing crisis, so this legislation could not have come at a better time. NATCA thanks the Oklahoma delegation, particularly Senator Inhofe, for their leadership in advancing this important bill. Experienced, recently retired controllers are vital to the FAA academy in order to train the new hires the system desperately needs.”

Background

On July 14, Sens. Inhofe and Lankford as well as Rep. Russell introduced ATC legislation in their respective chambers, S.3217 and H.R. 5785.

On April 19, Inhofe voted in favor of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2016 which included a provision to encourage the hiring and retention of high-quality air traffic controller instructors.

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