DOT: ATC Training Is Still Not Up to Snuff

 - September 16, 2013, 1:40 PM

An August 27 report by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Inspector General (IG) concludes that none of the 49 suggestions related to the hiring and training of new air traffic controllers outlined in the FAA’s independent review panel two years ago have been implemented.

The FAA plans to hire and train more than 11,700 new air traffic controllers through Fiscal Year 2021 to offset expected retirements of controllers hired after the 1981 Patco strike. Because training a new controller can take more than three years, the agency faces a significant challenge to produce enough people to staff the nation’s 300 ATC facilities. Even more challenging to the agency is the fact that total training time for new controllers actually rose 41 percent between 2009 and 2012.

Other concerns include managing contract training resources, maintaining consistent leadership, measuring the impact of simulators and other training initiatives and improving staffing composition at complex facilities through controller placement and screening programs.

The IG made a number of recommendations to assist the FAA in improving its facility training efforts, including reestablishing a training initiatives section in the annual controller workforce plan, creating and implementing a policy to identify locally developed training best practices, as well as establishing how national training initiatives would be measured for effectiveness.