I feel compelled to respond to a column by Harry Bernstein ("Reagan Should Rehire Air Controllers," March 26).
With each succeeding month, the Federal Aviation Administration is qualifying between 150 and 200 new full-performance-level controllers. Last year--with a 3% increase in air traffic--we had 25% fewer controller errors and 18% fewer scheduled airline delays. Furthermore, air traffic control was not a causal factor in the major airline accidents last year.
The record shows that air safety is, in fact, improving. In 1985, commuter airlines and general aviation had the safest years ever. For U.S. scheduled and unscheduled air carriers--which did have a high number of fatalities last year--the overall trend is definitely in the direction of greater safety.
President Reagan's decision to fire the striking controllers was right in principle and right in practical terms.
By striking, the former controllers broke the law and broke faith with the American people, raising questions about whether their attitudes are compatible with the character traits the system requires. Some observers suggest a "selective" rehiring of these controllers, but current law does not allow such an approach. Congress would have to provide a legal foundation for such a selection.