Public Administration ETDs

Publication Date



The responsibility for the safety and control of air traffic within the boundaries of the continental United States, its island state, and territorial possessions lies with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). On the average, every second, every day throughout the year, two aircraft take off or land in the United States. The control of air traffic is the heart of FAA activities, involving almost 40 percent of its over 43,000 employees. The importance of FAA Air Traffic Controllers can be seen in just one figure: controllers handle more than 12,000,000 IFR aircraft flights annually. On March 25, 1970, more than 1,000 Air Traffic Controllers at key facilities in this country failed to report for duty. This was the beginning of a strike of the union members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) and climaxed a series of deteriorating relations between PATCO and FAA Management. The hypothesis of this study was that the FAA strike was caused, in part, by a breakdown in communications between Air Traffic Controllers and FAA Management. Obviously, it was beyond the scope of the study to analyze Employee­Management Relations throughout the FAA system. To reduce the framework of the problem, the study was confined to Employee-Management Relations at the Albuquerque Air Route Traffic Control Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Thus, some findings presented here are unique to the Albuquerque Center and perhaps have little application to other Centers. The research methodology used for data collection was to research FAA history and related past studies, interview representatives of labor and management, and distribute and statistically evaluate the returns from 300 questionnaires having 30 response items each. The empirical findings of the study strongly supported the research hypothesis. Of the controllers responding to the questionnaire, 87% reported that employee­management communication is unsatisfactory or, at best, satisfactory only at times. Recommended solutions to problems revealed by the study include: recognizing problems do exist and should be investigated; establishing an Organizational Ombudsman position; taking an active and positive comprehensive approach toward the establishment of a communication channel with employee organizations so employees can participate in the formulation of personnel policies, practices, and matters affecting working conditions of the controllers to the extent provided by Executive Orders 11491 and 11616. General applications are suggested to other ARTCCs and to other government agencies.

Degree Name

Public Administration

Level of Degree


Department Name

School of Public Administration

First Committee Member (Chair)

Albert H. Rosenthal

Second Committee Member

Nicholas Llewellyn Henry

Third Committee Member

Gerald Joseph Boyle



Document Type