Air Traffic Controller Hiring Reform of 2019 Signed into Law – grants hiring preference to CTI

The Association of Collegiate Institutions (ACTI) is pleased to announce the passage of the Air Traffic Controller Hiring Reform Act of 2019, which was incorporated into the National Defense Reauthorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020. This new law, signed by President Trump, grants significant benefits for students of Collegiate Training Institutions (CTI) and veterans when applying for Air Traffic Control Specialist (ATCS) positions with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The changes were supported by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.

The law requires that the FAA give hiring preference to graduates of FAA approved CTI institutions. This means that the FAA must refer CTI graduates within a particular employment exam score group prior to referring an off the street (OTS) candidate. This statutory preference replaces the previous requirement that the FAA refer no more than approximately fifty percent CTI and fifty percent OTS.

This new requirement helps ensure that the most qualified individuals are entering the air traffic control workforce. It also allows students that score well enough on employment entrance exams to be hired instead of being passed over by OTS candidates.

The FAA must also provide Congress with attrition and success rates, broken out based on hiring source (CTI vs OTS) on a regular basis. While the FAA previously reported these metrics frequently, it discontinued to after the drastic changes to the hiring process made in 2014. These metrics will allow Congress, and the public, to evaluate the benefits which CTI students provide the flying public and taxpayers. Previous FAA reports demonstrate that CTI students have a higher chance of succeeding in training.

The new hiring law also requires the Department of Transportation Office of the Inspector General to conduct a review and make recommendations to improve FAA pre-employment testing. This will allow the public to identify whether these exams the agency uses are job-relevant. The law requires that National Guard Air Traffic Controllers be treated equally like all other Department of Defense ATC’s when applying for positions with the FAA.

Since the 2014 changes to the hiring process, ACTI has worked with Congress and the courts to check the FAA’s actions and hold the agency accountable. ACTI advocated for CTI students after the FAA’s implementation of the Biographical Assessment. These efforts resulted in Congress banning the use of the controversial exam and providing age waivers for students disqualified by the 2014 exam who were otherwise qualified for the bid up until December 31, 2017 to re-apply regardless of age. In 2018, the scoring key to the 2014 exam was released as a result of litigation, and following that, the FAA was forced to discontinue the use of the exam all together as a result of the public outrage.

ACTI continues to advocate for CTI students and will monitor the agency’s compliance with this new law. Although the passage of this law provides CTI students with more benefits, ACTI will continue to work to remedy the actions the FAA took that impacted thousands of CTI students. ACTI looks forward to working with the Federal Aviation Administration in the implementation of this law, and work together with the agency to provide the nation with the best-qualified air traffic controllers.

ACTI Supports PLANE Act Legislation, opening additional employment opportunities for CTI Graduates

The Association of Collegiate Training Institutions is pleased to announce its support of Senator Inhofe and Senator King’s “Promoting the Launch of Aviation’s Next Era (PLANE Act) of 2019″ to the U.S. Senate. The PLANE Act provides key provisions which open additional opportunities for students of Collegiate Training Initiative (CTI) programs.

The bill, if passed, would require the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to develop a committee to review the existing regulations and policies related to practical experience requirements for the training of air traffic control tower operators. As part of this requirement, the FAA would need to review ways to modify federal regulations governing CTO certificates to allow graduates of CTI programs to work in a Federal Contract Tower (FCT) facility. There are over 250 FCT’s in the United States, which, under current regulations, the vast majority of CTI graduates are unable to apply for positions for. Staffing at FCTs is a critical issue which this bill, if passed, would help resolve as well as provide additional opportunities for CTI graduates. Additionally, the bill provides for the committee to review how to count the experience CTI students obtain during education to count for the experience requirements to work at an FCT.

Other provisions of the bill impact the FAA Academy, specifically, exempting those attending from government shutdowns. The recent government shutdown of 2019 resulted in delays in the hiring and training pipeline because academy students are currently not exempted employees.

The Association supports this bill (S.2198) because it helps provide opportunities for CTI graduates that are currently not available. The Association thanks Congress for its recognition of the vital role CTI students play in the FAA’s hiring process as well as the opportunity to help alleviate staffing concerns within the FCT program.


ACTI Supports ATC Hiring Reform Act of 2019

The Association of Collegiate Training Institutions is pleased to announce its support for the Air Traffic Controller Hiring Reform Act of 2019. Senators Shaheen (D-NH) and Hoeven (R-ND) introduced this bill which would require the Federal Aviation Administration to hire veterans and graduates of the Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) program prior to hiring others under the “off the street” hiring process for Air Traffic Control Specialist positions, based on employment exam test scores.

The Act removes the requirement for the FAA to hire approximately equal amounts from “Pool 1” (veteran and AT-CTI) and “Pool 2” (all others), instead requiring the FAA to hire the Pool 1 individual when two applicants have the same employment test score.

The Act also requires the FAA to report to Congress additional statistical information concerning the success rates of individuals.

This legislation seeks to further improve the hiring process and reverse the drastic changes made by the FAA in 2014. The Association has been a strong advocate for CTI students and veterans in Congress and the courts and supported initiatives to provide the best qualified individuals with employment opportunities.

More information concerning the bill is available at NH Labor News, and a copy of the bill text is available here.

ACTI Presents WEBB Award to Hon. LoBiondo, Hultgren, Lipinski

Since its inception in early 2014, the Association of Collegiate Training Institutions, ACTI, has sought to unify FAA certificated colleges and universities with one voice of advocacy for our ATC students & graduates in pursuit of their career aspirations as motivated, dedicated air traffic control specialists.  In that spirit of commitment to safety, efficiency and unquestioned professionalism the ACTI WEBB Award for Aviation Excellence recognizes and acknowledges those individuals, elected officials, staffers and selfless aviation proponents for their steadfast support & guidance pursuant to our mission.

ACTI has awarded Congressmen Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Randy Hultgren (R-IL), and Dan Lipinski (D-IL) the WEBB award.

Congressmen Lipinski was not available at the time to accept his award.

The FAA Extension, Safety and Security Act of 2016 Becomes Law

The FAA Extension, Safety and Security Act of 2016 includes key provisions which begin to reverse the hiring concerns for our CTI students and graduates. Primarily, the Act removes the biographical assessment from the application and allows for those who aged out due to the FAAs hiring changes an extra chance.

ACTI will continue to advocate in Congress for additional relief for CTI students and graduates.

The complete copy of the Act is available here.

House Hearing

A Committee hearing was held on the FAA’s hiring, training, and staffing status. ACTI leaders along with students attended the event. Several Congressmen expressed their concern regarding the FAAs actions and continued failure to resolve the hiring and staffing issues.

Congress: New FAA Cheating Revelations Mandate a Congressional Hearing, says Hultgren

Washington, DC – Following new revelations that additional FAA or aviation-related employees may have assisted in giving potential air traffic controller recruits special access to answers on a key admissions test to help them gain jobs with the FAA, U.S. Representative Randy Hultgren (IL-14) restated his call, begun in December of last year, for FAA officials to appear before Congress to answer for their actions. Rep. Hultgren, a former member of the House Subcommittee on Aviation, has urged the House to act on his legislation, H.R. 1964, the Air Traffic Controllers Hiring Act of 2015 (previously known as the SAFE TOWERS Act), to reverse the effects of the FAA’s policies and restore safety and confidence to air travel.

“I am deeply disturbed that this alleged cheating may run deeper than first reported. If additional FAA or aviation-related employees helped applicants cheat on the Biographical Questionnaire (BQ), it is imperative we bring in those responsible and determine how widespread the misconduct is. Again, I urge Congress to hold a hearing and compel the FAA to appear before the American people to get to the bottom of this troubling discovery,” said Rep. Hultgren. “We need answers: Did the FAA know someone on the inside was helping people cheat, and did they cover it up? Was it a tactic with a purpose: to ensure targeted populations would pass the test? Who wrote the BQ, and who validated it (if anyone)?

“In addition, we still don’t know what will happen to those who have either failed the BQ, aged out of the hiring process, or both, for which they spent countless personal resources. I urge my colleagues to support my legislation to provide relief to those hurt by the FAA’s actions, and restore confidence in the air traffic controller hiring process.”

The FAA is under fire following a six month investigation into the agency’s new hiring practices which for months Rep. Hultgren has argued caused the agency to pass over the most qualified air traffic controller candidates, such as experienced veterans, and have raised concerns of air travel safety. The investigation also uncovered the alleged cheating, which Rep. Hultgren has called out. Illinois’ 14th Congressional District is home to the most air traffic controllers in Illinois.

Rothfus Sponsors Fix for FAA Hiring Rules to Ensure the Safety of Our Skies

WASHINGTON, D.C. —  New air traffic controller hiring rules imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) jeopardize passenger safety by unfairly shutting out some of the most qualified candidates.

Before the new rules took effect, graduates who obtained high-quality training from a specialized Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) program, and military veterans with relevant experience, received preference when applying for a position with FAA.

Western Pennsylvania’s Community College of Beaver County (CCBC) houses one of the top AT-CTI programs in the nation.

Unfortunately, the FAA’s sudden change has prevented many candidates who completed AT-CTI programs at CCBC from pursuing the career for which they were specifically trained.

The FAA gave little justification for the new hiring procedures.

“Training programs like the one at the Community College of Beaver County have a long track record of excellence,” said Congressman Keith Rothfus [PA-12]. “The aviation program at CCBC has built an excellent reputation as one of the top training programs in the nation, drawing in students from all over the region.”

Congressman Rothfus recently sponsored bipartisan legislation to reverse the new hiring rules, and restore the traditional hiring process that prioritizes graduates with advanced training as well as certain military veterans.

“Our bill ensures the most qualified candidates get to the top of the list. When it comes to our air traffic controllers, we need the best man or woman on the job to keep our skies safe,” said Rothfus.

H.R. 1964, the Air Traffic Controllers Hiring Act of 2015, restores preferred status for AT-CTI graduates and qualified veterans, eliminates the use of biographical questionnaires for screening purposes, and allows candidates who were unfairly excluded under previous biographical screening a chance to reapply.

Hultgren Reintroduces Legislation to Fix FAA’s Hiring Procedure for Air Traffic Controllers

FAA Plows Ahead without Addressing Safety Concerns

Washington, DC – U.S. Representatives Randy Hultgren (R-IL-14), Dan Lipinski (D-IL-03), Vicky Hartzler (R-MO-04), Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17), Matt Salmon (R-AZ-05), Tim Ryan (D-OH-13), Keith Rothfus (R-PA-12) and Elizabeth Esty (D-CT-05) today introduced a bill, the Air Traffic Controllers Hiring Act of 2015 (H.R. 1964), to reverse the effects of the Federal Aviation Authority’s (FAA) interim hiring procedures which have passed over the most qualified air traffic controller candidates and raised concerns of safety and transparency. Rep. Hultgren introduced similar legislation, the SAFE TOWERS Act (H.R. 5675), last Congress.

“Although the FAA’s sudden change in hiring standards last year clearly jeopardized air travel safety, the FAA has refused to alter course on the obscure and illogical practices which have passed over the most qualified air traffic controller candidates. This legislation makes sure we have the best and brightest in our control towers, provides relief to those who were unjustly shunted out of the interim hiring process, and pushes the FAA to change course on their new hiring procedures which have exacerbated the problem,” said Rep. Hultgren. “The FAA’s new procedures still do not address our concerns with the questionable and uncertified Biographical Questionnaire (Bio Q). They do nothing to provide relief for those who ‘aged out’ of the process—our bill does. I urge its quick passage, and I thank my fellow co-sponsors for their support. I also encourage Chairman Shuster to compel the FAA to answer tough questions about the change in procedure.”

Rep. Hultgren has called upon Congressman Bill Shuster (R-PA), Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, to hold a hearing examining the FAA’s hiring practices.

Currently, there are 272 air traffic controllers living in the 14th Congressional District. For decades, the FAA has relied on qualified veterans and colleges and universities to prepare air traffic controllers through the Collegiate Training Initiative (CTI), ensuring candidates are well-trained for the position. Last year, the FAA suddenly changed its hiring practices with few details given about how the changes would be implemented and with little advance warning. There are strong signs that the procedures have resulted in unjust economic injury to candidates who have been disqualified by the opaque Bio Q. Further, many have “aged out” after turning 31 during the application process, thus becoming ineligible for the job for which they were specifically trained. In January, the FAA announced this year’s procedures which resemble those used during the interim hiring period.

Among other provisions, the bill would:

  • Restore preferred status for CTI graduates with school recommendations and qualified veterans back into the hiring process. A qualified individual maintaining practical air traffic control experience obtained at FAA air traffic control facilities and civilian installations of the Department of Defense would also receive preferential consideration.
  • Eliminate the use of a Biographical Assessment that unduly disqualifies applicants, and require public disclosure of the assessment’s validation and criteria used before implementation.
  • Allow candidates who will have aged out from the interim hiring process, or were deemed unqualified by the Bio Q, the chance to reapply.