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FAA announces 10-year air traffic controller staffing plan

Over the next 10 years, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will hire and train air traffic controllers more efficiently and will staff each air traffic facility…

Over the next 10 years, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will hire and train air traffic controllers more efficiently and will staff each air traffic facility with the appropriate number of controllers to offset an expected wave of air traffic controller retirements, the agency announced in a controller staffing plan released today.

The plan calls for hiring 12,500 controllers over 10 years to cover projected total retirement and non- retirement controller losses. That level of hiring reflects the required lead time for training and will maintain the appropriate ratio between developmental and fully certified controllers.

The plan also outlines the actions the FAA will take to fully train controllers more quickly, which will ensure enough recruits in the pipeline to replace the more than 11,000 controllers who are expected to leave the agency between now and 2014. Hiring an additional 1,500 new controllers over the next ten years takes into account increases in traffic volume, an expected 5 percent training failure rate, and the still higher than normal retirement rates beyond 2014.

Staffing efficiencies, productivity improvements, and better management will enable the agency to reduce staffing requirements by at least 10 percent over the 10-year period from previous projections, producing a reduction of 1,700 positions. The plan will be updated on an annual basis to reflect traffic volume changes and further productivity increases.

We will continue to operate the world`s safest aviation system by being smarter and more efficient about our staffing needs, said FAA Administrator Marion C. Blakey. This plan is our blueprint to put the right number of controllers in the right place at the right time.

Expanded and more advanced simulator training in the field and other training improvements will help the FAA better train controllers in more realistic conditions more quickly than they have been trained in the past. Improvements in classroom training, increased use of high-technology simulators, and more efficient on-the- job training can compress the full training process from 3 to 5 years to 2 to 3 years, the report concludes. Other efficiencies in the screening process already have significantly slashed hiring costs and have dramatically reduced the failure rate.

The plan is good news for our controllers, said Blakey. Benefits include:

  • Advanced and more effective training enables the controller to reach CPC level faster
  • Staffing facilities according to traffic volume allows for a more family friendly work environment by reducing required overtime, while avoiding the cost of having full staffs on duty when traffic is light
  • Part-time positions and split shifts provide opportunities for more flexible employment; and,
  • Help create opportunities for controllers to advance more rapidly

The FAA also is sending to the Federal Register today a proposal to allow exceptional, medically fit controllers to continue to serve beyond the mandatory retirement age of 56. More than 15,000 FAA air traffic controllers currently staff 315 facilities across the country that range from small towers to large air route traffic control centers. They guide aircraft that use 600 commercial airports and 3,300 smaller public-use airports.

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Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales. She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.