Chairs DeFazio, Larsen Express Concern Over Remote Airline Dispatching, Demand Answers from FAA on Extensions of Pandemic-era Policy
Washington, D.C. — Today, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Chair of the Aviation Subcommittee Rick Larsen (D-WA) sent a letter to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Acting Administrator Nolen expressing their concern over the FAA’s decision to allow certain airline dispatchers to continue to work remotely.
“Together with air traffic controllers, airline pilots, and other aviation safety professionals, dispatchers maintain the safe and secure operation of tens of thousands of commercial flights in the national airspace system daily,” the Chairs wrote. “The decision to allow dispatchers to work from home, in potentially unsecured conditions, raises significant safety concerns that the FAA must address.”
Normally, FAA rules require dispatching duties be performed in operation control centers which offer a secure and distraction free environment that is protected from physical or cyber-attacks and equipment capable of handling massive amounts of data. However, in the summer of 2020, the FAA granted exemptions allowing for remote dispatching due to the COVID pandemic. Now, with many federal pandemic policies ending or being scaled back, the decision to allow these exemptions to continue could present serious safety concerns.
“Dispatchers have a joint responsibility, along with the flight crew, for the safety and operational control of flights under their guidance. They track and analyze meteorological conditions in real time, monitor the maintenance status and performance limitations of individual aircraft and navigational facilities, assess airport conditions, and prepare dispatch release and flight paperwork to include alternate landing sites for every commercial flight in our skies,” the Chairs wrote.“It is not a job that can be easily performed from home.”
The full letter text can be found here.
The temporary authorization allowing for remote dispatching is set to expire in early 2023, but the FAA could decide to extend or make the authorization permanent.
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