FAA Increases Controller Staffing Forecasts
In the ongoing saga of air traffic controller staffing, the FAA announced yesterday as part of its 10-year forecast that it is increasing controller hiring to better meet attrition and increasing system demand. The agency’s updated Air Traffic Control Workforce Plan now specifies the need for 15,000 new controllers over the next decade, up from previous plans for 12,500 new controllers over a similar period. According to FAA Administrator Marion Blakey, 1,400 of those new hires will come in the next fiscal year, an increase of 350 over earlier projections. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association said the FAA had to increase projections to meet an unexpected number of retirements due to its new contract. Though the FAA concedes the contract might have caused some of the increase, it does not go so far as to conclude it was the main reason that retirements were 25 percent higher than expected last year.