A History of Air Traffic Control
Founded in 1987, the National Air Traﬃc Controllers Association
(NATCA) represents more than 15,000 aviation safety professionals throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam and other U.S. territories. All share a common goal: protecting the safety of the ﬂying public.
These individuals are air traffic controllers, engineers, architects, nurses, health care professionals and financial and accounting professionals.
In 1981, air traffic controllers lost their collective voice after the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization
(PATCO) was decertified. The decertification followed a strike that led to the firing of 11,345 controllers. Over the
next several years, the Federal Aviaton Administration (FAA) hired large numbers of controllers, but never returned to pre-1981 levels. Meanwhile, the number of daily flights grew – along with safety concerns. The controllers needed
representation to address their concerns and ensure that passengers remained safe in air travel. NATCA was formed to fill that role.
NATCA serves as the exclusive bargaining representative for FAA air traffic controllers, engineers, architects and many other aviation safety professionals – representing the
concerns of all in the field, not just their members. Although membership is voluntary,
NATCA has the highest percentage representation of any federal employee union.
NATCA also works to further the general public’s interest in safe and efficient air travel. To do that, NATCA seeks to influence aviation policies through efforts related to political and legislative affairs, communications and technology advancement. Since its founding, NATCA has carved out an influential role in the aviation
industry, fighting on behalf of all its members and the flying public to achieve the safest and most efficient air travel system in the world. NATCA continues to serve as the voice of aviation safety