For Immediate Release

March 31, 2008
Contact: Paul Takemoto
Phone: 202-267-3883

WASHINGTON – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is on schedule in its plan to hire and train nearly 17,000 air traffic controllers over the next decade. The FAA hired over 1,800 controllers last year and expects to hire nearly 1,900 in fiscal year 2008. The details are laid out in the Controller Workforce Plan released today.

“We’re on target, and our newly hired controllers are highly motivated,” said Acting Administrator Robert A. Sturgell. “Significant improvements in the way we recruit, hire and train people are helping us manage through this predicted transition period.”

Recent data show key improvements in training methods lowered the training time to become a fully certified controller from an average of three to five years to an average of two to three years. The rigorous standards to become a Certified Professional Controller remain the same – the improved training means developmentals reach required proficiency goals sooner. All controllers must pass a series of increasingly complex and challenging stages in training before becoming fully certified.

Other training improvements include the addition of 18 new tower simulators to air traffic facilities throughout the nation and six new simulators to the FAA’s Air Traffic Controller Academy in Oklahoma City. Twenty-one new classes were added to the FAA Academy in order to accommodate the growing enrollment. The number of colleges and universities accredited to teach air traffic control as part of a college degree – called Collegiate Training Initiative (CTI) schools – increased by nine last year to now total 23.

The training improvements go hand-in-hand with recruitment initiatives that resulted in thousands of applications in fiscal 2007. Pre-employment processing centers provide one-stop shopping for invited candidates, allowing them to have final interviews and medical and security screenings in the same location on the same day. Other recruitment efforts include nationwide announcements, a bonus of up to $20,000 for eligible military and civilian hires with previous controller experience, and participation in recruitment fairs nationwide, including the NAACP Diversity Job Fair and the Congressional Black Caucus Diversity Job Fair. The agency is also using retention incentives to keep veteran controllers on the job longer.

The long-expected retirement wave of controllers who were hired after the 1981 PATCO strike resulted in the retirement of over 800 controllers in 2007. The FAA began submitting a workforce plan to Congress in 2004 outlining its plans to recruit, hire and train new controllers to meet the increasing number of retirements. The agency expects to finish the year with a controller workforce of 15,130, a net increase of 256 from the previous year.

For high resolution photographs please see Controller Workforce Plan Photos.

For the 2008 Controller Workforce Plan please see Air Traffic Control Workforce Plan.