ACTI Response to FAA Statements

An Association of Collegiate Training Institutions Investigation Determines That The Federal Aviation Administration Ignores Safety Concerns and Research Regarding The New Air Traffic Controller Hiring Process.

On December 30th, 2013 the FAA suddenly, and without warning, terminated its long proven program for educating potential new air traffic controllers. Military veterans, students and graduates from the 36 FAA-authorized Air Traffic – Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) colleges and universities who were waiting for over two years to be hired were suddenly wiped from the FAA’s list of eligible applicants. In the FAA’s words, “the list was purged.” Despite very high demand for controllers the FAA FAA “purged” over 3,000 CTI student candidates who had already passed the FAA’s only validated aptitude test. The FAA is very aware that CTI students perform much better than general public applicants without any experience.

The “new” hiring process requires absolutely zero experience or education. Applicants must simply have “three years of progressively responsible work experience” and “pass” a 62-question personality test. The test includes penetrating questions such as “What sports did you play in high school?” or “How many college credits did you take in Art/Music/Dance/Drama?” The FAA claims (again, without showing proof despite congressional demands) that this personality test has been “validated.” Since new-hires are just now starting training, how can the FAA claim their new “selection criteria” is valid? And why would you replace a truly validated system—the AT-CTI process—with personality test? Additionally, the test was not secure. Anyone could take the examination without proof of identity. In fact, the FAA is aware that currently employed air traffic controllers from the busiest FAA facilities in the country took the personality “test” and FAILED. 

Prior to the “new process” the validated Air Traffic Selection and Training test, or AT-SAT, was used to assess potential new-hires. Unlike the new and questionable personality test, the AT-SAT has years of data to show that a higher score equates to a higher likelihood of completing training – and taking less time to do so. This is a direct savings to the taxpayer.

On July 30th, 2014 the FAA released the results of this grand experiment. According to Michael Huerta, FAA Administrator, claiming that he “could not be more excited about this new class of promising candidates.” Apparently, looking at the FAA’s numbers, Administrator Huerta is “excited” that 55% of the new hires have zero aviation or air traffic control experience! Huerta also touted the alleged cost savings without considering the true costs to the taxpayer. For every applicant that fails the costs to the government repeat. If someone fails to make the training program a “replacement” controller has to start from the very beginning. The FAA’s own reports have pegged the amount at over $283,000 per student! How much money is “saved” when applicants with no experience have to be replaced over and over and over again?

In short, the flying public should be very afraid. The FAA is doubling down on the “new” hiring process, issuing press releases claiming “All is well!” despite the fact that the process is far from transparent, cannot be explained, and has yet to show a single successful outcome. The FAA will no doubt cite the intensive training at their Academy to deflect concerns, but when leadership begins twisting data to “prove” success or starts “curving” test scores, how long before those same methods trickle down to the Academy and your local airport?

The Association of Collegiate Training Institutions (ACTI) represents colleges, universities, and faculty involved in training students for careers in aviation and air traffic control.

Posted in Press Release.