Aerospace Medicine Technical Reports

FAA Office of Aerospace Medicine
Civil Aerospace Medical Institute

Report No: DOT/FAA/AM-14/8

Title and Subtitle: Using Biodata to Select Air Traffic Controllers

Report Date: October 2014

Authors: Pierce LG, Broach D, Byrne C, Bleckley MK

Abstract. We examined biographical data (biodata) as predictors of training status (successful or unsuccessful) for candidate air traffic control specialists (ATCSs): self-reported high school grade point average (GPA), high school GPA in mathematics, highest educational degree achieved, completing an aviation program from a school in the FAA�s collegiate training initiative program, and holding any pilot certificate. These factors have been shown to predict controller training success in previous research or are being considered for use as quality rating factors in controller selection.

Method.We computed separate logistic regression equations for en route and terminal trainees. Score on the Air Traffic-Selection and Training (AT-SAT) test battery and age at entry on duty was entered first and second into the equations. Finally, we entered the biodata items using a forward stepwise selection method. Success in training, first at the FAA Academy and subsequently at the trainee's first facility, was the criterion measure.

Results.Results were only partially supported by previous research. As expected, AT-SAT score was a significant predictor of training success in both regression models. Trainees with higher AT-SAT scores were more likely to complete training successfully than trainees with lower AT-SAT scores. Also, and as expected, age was inversely related to training success in both models. Younger trainees were more likely to complete training successfully than older trainees were. En route trainees with a self-reported high school math GPA of A and those with any type of pilot certificate were more likely to succeed in training than trainees with a high school math GPA less than an A and/or without any type of pilot certificate. For terminal trainees, no biodata items added to AT-SAT score and age in predicting training success.

Discussion.Based on an analysis of the relationship between selected biodata items and training success, we conclude that the evidence for using these biodata items for controller selection is weak. We recommend that if biodata are used to select ATCSs, additional research is needed to identify and validate items predictive of success in training. We also recommend that a criterion measure representative of job performance of air traffic controllers be developed and validated for use in future research on the selection of air traffic controllers.

Key Words: ATCS Selection, Air Traffic Control, Biodata, Biographical Data

No. of Pages: 13

Last updated: Monday, October 6, 2014