FAA ATC hire quick pitch: speed needed, are the selection criteria, #s and future all right?

FAA Air Traffic Control Specialist Trainee
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Air Traffic Control Specialist Trainee

After years (literally) of debate, controversy and a selection scheme of considerable disrepute, the FAA issued a job vacancy announcement for the position of Air Traffic Control Specialist Trainee that will be available on USAJobs.gov.

→ NB the dates for application run only from August 8-15, 2016.

That is such a tight window of opportunity that the FAA recommends that individuals interested should establish an account on the USAJobs.gov site now.

The terms of the announcement are the product of specific Congressional language, HR 836 SEC. 2106. Hiring of air traffic controllers, in relevant part, provides:

(A)… the Administrator shall give preferential consideration to qualified individuals maintaining 52 consecutive weeks of air traffic control experience involving the full-time active separation of air traffic after receipt of an air traffic certification or air traffic control facility rating within 5 years of application while serving at—

“(i) a Federal Aviation Administration air traffic control facility;

“(ii) a civilian or military air traffic control facility of the Department of Defense; or

“(iii) a tower operating under contract with the Federal Aviation Administration under section 47124

(b)(1) Administrator shall consider additional applicants for the position of air traffic controller by referring an approximately equal number of individuals for appointment among the 2 applicant pools described in this subparagraph. The number of individuals referred for consideration from each group shall not differ by more than 10 percent.

“(ii) POOL 1.—Pool 1 applicants are individuals who—

“(I) have successfully completed air traffic controller training and graduated from an institution participating in the Collegiate Training Initiative program maintained under subsection (c)(1) and who have received from the institution—

“(aa) an appropriate recommendation; or

“(bb) an endorsement certifying that the individual would have met the requirements in effect as of December 31, 2013, for an appropriate recommendation;

“(II) are eligible for a veterans recruitment appointment pursuant to section 4214 of title 38 and provide a Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty within 120 days of the announcement closing;

“(III) are eligible veterans (as defined in section 4211 of title 38) maintaining aviation experience obtained in the course of the individual’s military experience; or

“(IV) are preference eligible veterans (as defined in section 2108 of title 5).

“(iii) POOL 2.—Pool 2 applicants are individuals who apply under a vacancy announcement recruiting from all United States citizens.

Those are VERY explicit employment priorities because Congress was annoyed with the FAA’s slowness in opening its ATC rolls to classes of new candidates and outright angry with the attempt to shut down the very successful Collegiate Training Initiative in which prospects interested in this career would earn an academic certification as to ATC competence and knowledge.

FAA Air Traffic Control Specialist Trainee

NATCA and its President, Paul Rinaldi, have been making a case that there is an urgent need to restaff the towers and centers. Testimony in support of the bill eventually labelled the “FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016.” Controller staffing levels have fallen nearly 10 percent since 2011, and the FAA has missed its hiring goals in each of the last seven years. In fact, in fiscal year 2015, the FAA fell 24 percent short of its hiring goal. More controllers are eligible to retire today, specifically one-quarter of the workforce, than are in the pipeline to replace them. This is the graphic proving the union’s point.

FAA Air Traffic Control Specialist Trainee

NATCA’s statement upon passage of the bill makes explicit its goals and summarizes well the Act’s provisions:

“The number of fully certified controllers working today is at a 27-year low, a crisis made worse by FAA’s inability to meet its own hiring goals in each of the last seven years. NATCA believes FAA must take a holistic, collaborative approach to resolving these staffing concerns. If passed, the extension as drafted would streamline the hiring process by allowing experienced controllers to be hired quickly; military veterans and graduates of schools in FAA’s Collegiate Training Initiative (CTI) would also be hired more expeditiously. CTI graduates and veterans would be considered in a separate pool from the general public. The extension would also increase the maximum entry age for a controller with 52 weeks experience to 35 years of age, another provision we applaud.”

The FAA statement reviewed the work statement for these future employees and included a link to its web page which provides even more detail. The Administrator Huerta added “We provide the safest, most efficient airspace system in the world and we need exceptional people to support our mission.”

The beneficiaries of these added human resources, A4A, RAA, AOPA, NBAA, NATA, ALPA among others, have not issued any press releases, positive or negative, in response to the hiring announcement.

→ Quaere: Do the users think this hiring number is inadequate or not?

 Quaere: NATCA appears to be of the opinion that 1,400 FPL controllers will not be enough; does the FAA intend to hire more? What is the Oklahoma ATC Training Academy’s effective through put?

These new hires will be at their positions as NextGen and all of its extensive enhancement (Free Flight, etc.) will be fully implemented.

→ Quaere: Do the hiring criteria include the skills needed for the future work requirements?

Quaere: Will the new training curriculum include all of the relevant work skills?

Clearly this is the most significant FAA ATC hire since 1981 and the future human capabilities of the air traffic operations depend on well considered hiring criteria and even well designed training process for these individuals.

The FAA press release did not address these significant questions.


ARTICLE: FAA to hire around 1,400 air traffic controllers
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