New policies for hiring air traffic controllers under scrutiny, WAFF

Thursday, November 20th 2014, 1:45 pm MST

Nick Lough


More than 24 million Americans will fly somewhere for Thanksgiving this year. Now, there are questions about new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) hiring practices for air traffic controllers and if those new policies are putting the flying public at risk.

A U.S. Congressman has called it illogical. A growing number of college graduates with aviation degrees say it’s eliminating some of the best and brightest.

Prior to 2014, the FAA put a premium on hiring air traffic control candidates from College Training Initiative (CTI) schools. Several dozen schools participated in the program. The closest to North Alabama is Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

According to the FAA’s own website, the program is designed to give students a curriculum based on the fundamentals of aviation and the government organization “considers AT-CTI graduates a valuable hiring source.”

CTI students were not guaranteed jobs – they still were required to pass an AT-SAT aptitude test and obtain specific and specialized training. This year, the rules changed and the FAA opened up hiring to everyone.

That means people right off the street, with no prior aviation training or skills, could apply. They also added a biographical assessment questionnaire for any potential candidate. That’s a move that Washington Senator Patty Murray questioned United States Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx about earlier this year. Foxx oversees the FAA.

“The FAA took an opportunity to do a more broad opening of the aperture, if you will,” Foxx told Senator Murray when she asked about the biographical assessment questionnaire.

“28,000 applicants took the test. Only 2,200 passed,” Murray then told Foxx. “Nobody understands what this biographical questionnaire is evaluating.”

According to Andrew Brigida, the questionnaire asked him very little about his aviation knowledge.

“It asks questions such as how many art credits did you take in high school,” said Brigida, who ultimately failed the biographical questionnaire. He graduated last year from Arizona State University, a CTI school, with a degree specializing in air traffic control and aviation.

Brigida told us he scored 100 percent on his aptitude test. However, because he failed the biographical questionnaire, or as he describes it, a diversity test, the FAA didn’t hire him.

And he’s not alone. Thousands of CTI school graduates failed the questionnaire; around nine out of every ten.

Who is passing? According to the Chicago Tribune, of the roughly 1,600 air traffic controller jobs available this year, the FAA offered 837 of the positions to people who applied off the street. Those are the applicants with little to no aviation training.

“My goal, my dream is to become a controller,” said Joel Sushereba.

Sushereba is a veteran. He served several years in the United States Navy, where he worked as an air traffic controller.

“I could really jump into a facility right now without the need for the FAA academy at all,” Sushereba said about the new hiring changes. The veteran now teaches air traffic control classes at a CTI school in Maryland.

A veteran who has air traffic control training, on the job experience, and currently teaches the skill to other potential FAA candidates would seem like a slam dunk hire, right?

Wrong. He failed the biographical questionnaire.

“I had to read it a couple of times to make sure I was reading it right, that a personality test told me I was not qualified,” said Sushereba. Both Sushereba and Brigida say the public needs to be aware of the changes.

“This is most certainly a safety issue,” said Sushereba.

The safety issue, both men said, is that if some of the FAA’s new candidates can’t cut it, they’ll get the cut and leave a control tower expecting a new person understaffed and overwhelmed in the interim.

“These overworked, overtired, taxed controllers are going to be more prone towards mistakes,” said Sushereba.

Now Congress is getting involved. Two months ago, two congressmen from Illinois, Representatives Randy Hultgren and Dan Lipinski, introduced the Safe Towers Act. The lawmakers are touting the legislation as restoring common sense to the hiring of air traffic controllers.

The bill, if approved, would restore the FAA’s preferred hiring status for CTI graduates and qualified veterans and eliminate the biographical questionnaire. Congressman Hultgren issued a statement about the act:

The SAFE TOWERS Act is targeted at making sure we have the best and brightest in our control towers. When you climb into an airliner, you trust the pilot, the crew and air traffic controllers will keep you safe. The new hiring standards jeopardize air travel safety because they divert the hiring process around highly-qualified, CTI-certified trainees and elevate off-the-street candidates. Psychological assessments are important, especially for high-stress jobs. But disqualifying highly-trained, certified graduates because they did or did not play sports in high school, as one Bio Q question asked, is ridiculous. The SAFE TOWERS Act ensures our towers are again operated by qualified veterans and graduates with specialized aviation degrees, and provides relief for those who ‘aged out’ of the process. Further, it makes sure the FAA is open and transparent about their hiring procedures.

The bill has been referred to a Congressional committee. Sushereba and Brigida are closely watching it in hopes it passes and helps them move past this job hunt nightmare.

“I’m frustrated because I’ve been investing in a career in the FAA for the last nine years,” said Sushereba.

“The part that amazes me about it is there are current controllers that saw how ridiculous this new process was,” said Brigida. “They applied to be controllers just to take this test and they also failed this questionnaire test. Even though they’re already controllers, they somehow would not get hired currently if they were not controllers.”

We reached out to the FAA and asked them several questions including if they plan to use the biographical questionnaire when hiring in the future. Their statement in response is as follows:

The FAA reviewed the end-to-end process of hiring and assigning air traffic control specialists and chose to make several improvements to the way it selects, trains, and assigns air traffic controllers in order to recruit a better qualified candidate and reduce costs associated with testing and training. Improvements were made to enhance decision making and increase objectivity in the assessment of candidates.

The selection process for new air traffic controllers was very competitive. In the course of two weeks, we received over 28,000 applications for 1,700 positions. We expect to hire additional controllers next year and have encouraged those not selected to reapply then. The agency plans to hire more than 6,600 new controllers over the next five years to keep pace with expected attrition and traffic growth.

In previous hires, the FAA would typically keep an inventory of qualified candidates and draw from that pool as needed. In some cases applicants might wait for long durations and never receive a tentative offer letter from the agency, which was a point of criticism from candidates. In this hire, the FAA did not create an inventory and as a result the number of actual positions was very limited.

We have received feedback from Members of Congress and the public and we continue to evaluate our recruitment and applicant assessment process closely. We plan to make further improvements to the process before the next round of hiring.

FAA off course on air traffic controllers, The Hill


When you cross the threshold of a major airliner and peer into the cockpit as the pilots systematically go through their preflight procedures, you feel confident that the airline upon which you are traveling has the most experienced and well-trained pilots available.  But the pilot is just part of a team of professionals who are going to get you to your destination safely and (hopefully) on time.

While pilots command more than 87,000 flights in the U.S. every day, our nation’s air traffic controllers are charged with keeping those aircrafts moving through airspace safely and efficiently.  In densely populated skies, it is essential that this team of highly trained professionals speaks the same language and anticipates the other’s moves.  This synergy only comes from experience and lots of critical training.

While safety remains of the utmost importance, efficiency however, has taken a far back seat. This year, U.S. flights experienced their worst rate of delays in 20 years, with nearly 1 in 4 domestic flights being delayed.

Now the federal government is going to make matters even worse. The thousands of air traffic controllers who were hired during the 1981 Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) strike are reaching mandatory retirement.

Over the past several years, the FAA bewilderingly has not hired or trained enough new controllers to make up for these well-documented and impending mass retirements. Further, the efficacy of the FAA’s current controller workforce has come into question even more, as the FAA actually reduced controller hiring, which now requires them to play catch-up with a surge of new training over the next two years to fill critical soon-to-be vacant controller positions.

As if current air traffic delays and the lack of controllers training weren’t enough, the FAA is now totally revamping the way air traffic controllers are hired.  Air traffic control is one of the most demanding and stressful jobs in the world; controllers require detailed knowledge of aviation, high-intelligence and lightning-fast analytical skills to do the job well.

Astonishingly, instead of hiring the most highly qualified and knowledgeable college graduates who have been certified from air traffic control accredited schools via the FAA’s Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative (CTI), as well as operationally qualified ex-military controllers, most of the FAA’s newly-hired candidates have no aviation experience and therefore will require an increased amount of costly training.

Hiring, however, is not the only issue the FAA is facing when it comes to its air traffic controllers. Managing their training is also a critical concern. Recently, there have been criticisms by Congress and the Department of Transportation Inspector General (IG) about this skewed and costly training process. The issue, according to IG reports, is the inability of the FAA to improve its success and management of training, define the most critical training requirements and develop training innovations. This last point is key.  A major goal of the FAA, through its current training program, was to reduce its training costs by developing and implementing new innovative training techniques. Yet, to date, the FAA has not implemented any of those new training innovations and consequently, has not reduced its high training costs.

Furthermore, FAA plans to fundamentally change its training program at the precise time we need the FAA to accelerate its training of qualified Air Traffic Controllers. Changing course now would lead to a higher failure rate of air traffic controllers. If it takes controllers three or four years, rather than two, to become certified, the FAA will certainly see greater inefficiency, which ultimately will yield a higher cost to taxpayers and could mean more delays at the airport for the traveling public.

Moreover, the FAA has not completely defined the training requirements or costs associated with bringing these new controllers online.  As an airline pilot of 17 years and former Vice Chair of Aviation on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I find each of these moves by the FAA perplexing at best. Collectively, these decisions could spell an absolute disaster for the traveling public and grossly increase costs for the American taxpayer.

It is incomprehensible to me that the FAA is seemingly willing to play with safety, increase travel delays and burden a currently strained workforce.

Therefore, I urge the FAA not to overhaul its current training program when we need it most. Changing course will only slow down the entire process when—now, more than ever—we need to be expediting training.

Cravaack served in the House from 2011 to 2013. He is also a retired 17-year airline pilot and former Navy captain.

2 Illinois lawmakers seek to dump new FAA controller hiring rules, Chicago Tribune

Jon Hilkevitch


A new federal policy aimed at making it easier for members of the general public with no aviation background to embark on careers in air traffic control would be reversed under legislation proposed in Congress on Friday.

The Safe Towers Act, introduced in the House by U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, an Illinois Republican, and co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D.-Ill., seeks to restore the Federal Aviation Administration‘s traditional recruitment process for hiring air traffic controllers. Those practices, in place for almost 25 years, favored graduates of FAA-accredited college aviation programs and military veterans with aviation experience, ahead of the general public.

Over the past winter, the FAA abruptly switched the recruitment focus to prioritize off-the-street candidates, as part of a strategy to replace more than 10,000 air traffic controllers who will retire over the next decade, the Tribune reported in May. The FAA controller workforce totals about 14,100, and white males make up the majority of the staffing at airport towers and radar facilities.

FAA officials have dismissed suggestions from critics that the new rules lack transparency and are designed primarily to increase diversity within the controller ranks, while risking an erosion of safety. FAA officials said the new process is more streamlined and will reduce testing costs. But the change followed an internal FAA analysis that showed the long-standing recruitment and testing protocols were a “barrier” for some minorities, particularly African-Americans.–20140919-story.html

FAA Finds Minimal Benefits from New Controller Hiring Process, Reason Foundation

Robert Poole
September 4, 2014

FAA Finds Minimal Benefits from New Controller Hiring Process

On July 30th the Wall Street Journal published results from the first go-round of FAA’s new “off-the-street” controller hiring process. As you may recall from previous stories, instead of recruiting from graduates of the several dozen colleges with specialized two-year or four-year ATC curricula and people with prior military controller or other experience, it invited anyone from the public to apply. And instead of passing only the usual controller aptitude test, they first had to “pass” a biographical questionnaire (BQ), whose content and scoring are not public knowledge but which circumstantial evidence suggests was intended to recruit more minorities.

About 28,000 people applied, and of those who passed both of the above hurdles and received offers of employment as controller trainees, 65% were Collegiate Training Initiative graduates, former military controllers, or others with aviation work history. The remaining 35% were off-the-street hires with no aviation background or knowledge. The WSJ story reported that the pass rate for CTI graduates was 12.6%, compared with an overall average of 3.7% for all the others who applied. These pass rates refer to clearing both hurdles: the bio questionnaire and the aptitude test.

What the FAA did not disclose was the pass rate for the “street” hires with aviation backgrounds—former military controllers, private pilots, etc. Presumably, they would be more likely to qualify than the purely street hires, but that number is not available. That also makes it impossible to know the pass rate of the purely street hires (with no aviation backgrounds). But it’s possible to estimate one pass rate and thereby derive the other, since we know the weighted average of non-CTI grads is 3.7%.

To begin with, I figured out from the aggregated pass rates that the total hired was 1,588, of which 756 were CTI grads and 832 were street hires (including those with aviation backgrounds). The next step is an if/then calculation. It seems likely that street hires with aviation backgrounds would have a pass rate somewhere between that of CTI grads and non-aviation street hires. I started by assuming the aviation ones did half as well as CTI grads. Solving the equations based on the weighted average pass rate of all 832 street hires, with the aviation ones at 6.3%, the pure-street ones would be at 3.2%. Alternatively, if the aviation ones did three-quarters as well as CTI grads, averaging 9.45%, then the pure-street average would drop to 2.9%. That’s a very small pass rate after all this trouble.

Those numbers, of course, are only for getting into the FAA Academy. We have no idea what the wash-out rate will be, and how it will differ among these three groups of just-hired trainees. Nor will we know for several years what fraction of those who graduate from the Academy make it to full performance level controllers.

Given what a departure this new hiring process is from the previous approach, and that it flies in the face of previous ATO intentions, based on recommendations from the Office of the Inspector General, to revamp hiring to rely mostly or entirely on CTI graduates, I’ve been surprised at the relative silence of both controllers union NATCA and the FAA Managers Association. NATCA’s current statement on this process explains that the union is not involved in the hiring process, but is “hopeful that FAA will continue to make improvements to its new process and make a successful hiring effort in 2015.” It goes on to say that because NATCA’s top priority is safety, “We have urged the FAA to hire the most qualified air traffic control candidates and place them in facilities where they have the best opportunity to successfully train to achieve full certification.” Is that praising with faint damns, or what?

The July/August issue of the FAAMA magazine, Managing the Skies, includes a short paragraph on the subject, which refers to a position statement on their website. I could not find it there, but was able to obtain a copy. While supporting the goal of seeking a more diverse controller workforce, the statement says it is not clear that the BQ helps with increasing diversity, and that FAA has not demonstrated a nexus between the BQ and its goals. In its summing-up points, it states flatly that “Lowering entry and performance standards is not acceptable,” and that “FAA must incorporate transparency in hiring” such as “explaining how the new hiring plan will achieve better, cost-effective results than the old system.” And it also notes that controversy and litigation over the new approach “threatens to slow the entry of critically needed students into the FAA Academy.” Well-said, FAAMA.

Upcoming Event

59th ATCA Annual Conference and Exposition, Sept. 28-Oct. 1, Gaylord Hotel, National Harbor, MD (Robert Poole speaking). Details at:

ACTI Says New Controller Hiring Process Ignores Safety, AIN Online

 – August 25, 2014, 11:25 AM

The association of collegiate training institutions (ACTI)–the group that represents 36 FAA-authorized air traffic-collegiate training initiative (ATCTI) colleges and universities–criticized the FAA last week for eliminating preferential hiring for ATCTI graduates. It said the move could potentially undermine safety and threaten the viability of the schools.

Last December, the FAA halted the preferential treatment of ATCTI graduates and purged a list of more than 3,000 students who had already passed the agency’s hiring tests in place at the time.

“The FAA is aware that CTI students perform much better than general-public applicants without any experience,” ACTI said in a news release. “The [FAA’s] new hiring process requires absolutely zero experience or education, only that they 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?’ and ‘How many college credits did you take in art/music/dance/drama?’”

ACTI says the flying public should not accept the FAA’s reassurance that intensive training at its own air traffic academy guarantees the quality of new recruits. “When [FAA] 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 group argued.

Students, professor frustrated by new FAA hiring process, Purdue Exponent

  • By ALLIE HASTINGS Summer Reporter

Aviation technology students seeking jobs with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) may not have the future they have dreamt about.

On Dec. 30, the FAA changed its hiring process to allow anyone with a high school diploma to apply for air traffic controller positions. Mike Nolan, an aviation technology professor at Purdue, explained that traditionally, the FAA hired its staff from three employment pools: ex-military controllers, the public and college graduates with Collegiate Training Initiative (CTI) certificates. For the last two decades, the FAA partnered with 36 universities that offer CTI programs for undergraduates, including Purdue.

Nolan said upon completion of the program, the student’s name would be sent to the FAA and added to a list of potential candidates for air traffic control. However, the new system renders the partnership void.

“For the most part, to work as an air traffic controller you have to work for the FAA,” said Nolan. “There are some private control towers out there, but not enough to be a large source of work, so we’re really talking about working for the FAA.”

Harold Rutila, a senior in the College of Technology, knew he wanted to be an air traffic controller before he even began junior high school. Following the FAA’s advice, Rutila came to Purdue for its CTI program. To enhance his resume, he earned an FAA flight instructor certificate, gained ground operations experience at a hub with a major airline and frequently visited FAA air traffic control facilities to observe controllers while they worked.

However, under the new hiring process, Rutila’s efforts no longer matter.

“The core problem is there was no transition to this new hiring process. My class entered Purdue knowing what the FAA had been advertising and how it had been hiring for years before then,” Rutila said. “I entered Purdue expecting to leave with a CTI certificate that would be acknowledged by the FAA in the same manner it had been acknowledged for decades before, (but) the CTI program, for as long as the latest hiring process remains in place, has no value in the eyes of those conducting hiring at the FAA.”

Once employees are hired by the FAA, they go through a training process that lasts anywhere from two to four years, but is fired if the person fails the training. The new process reduces costs by screening applicants with a biographical assessment that determines whether or not the applicant is “cut out” for the air traffic control position. Nolan referred to the assessment as odd because of the type of questions, such as the applicant’s favorite subject in high school.

“How do you prove what type of background a person should have to be a good anything? How do you do it objectively? Their approach, and it’s not wrong, is ‘Let’s go out in the field and find the people who are doing the job and see what, if anything, they have in common,’” Nolan said.

Some of his recently graduated students with CTI certifications and work experience didn’t make it through the application process not because of their resumes, but because of their scores on the assessment.

As for students still in the program, Rutila said his biggest issue with the FAA is the lack of warning.

“If the CTI program was producing problematic candidates or was costing the FAA too much money, the FAA should have publicly transitioned away from the program, providing those of us already in the program with the same opportunity as those who had participated in it before these changes went into effect,” Rutila said. “The change was made behind closed doors, was released publicly on an otherwise slow news day and was effective immediately.”

Though the partnership between Purdue and the FAA still exists legally, Nolan said all otherwise communication between the two groups has ceased. Despite the loss, Nolan said the courses required for the CTI certificate will still be taught at the University.

“There are still classes and they’re good for students to have. It’s only two courses,” he said.

Media Shine Spotlight on Bizarre FAA Controller Hiring Plan, Reason Foundation

Air Traffic Control Newsletter #114

Robert Poole
June 27, 2014

In the February issue of this newsletter I broke the story of the FAA’s abrupt shift in recruiting candidates for training as new controllers. Instead of giving priority to about 3,000 graduates of FAA-approved ATC curriculum at the 36 colleges that are members of the Collegiate Training Institute, it announced two major changes starting early this year. First, all controller recruitment would be “off the street,” and second, the initial step would be for all applicants to fill out and pass a “Biographical Questionnaire” aimed at recruiting a more-diverse workforce. Despite widespread dismay and anger on the part of CTI faculty and graduates, the agency went ahead with this plan. And as feared by CTI graduates, large numbers of them “failed” the BQ (with no explanation of why) and could not proceed any further, calling into question the money spent and two to four years they have invested in hopes of becoming controllers.

Until recently, the major media had ignored this story. But on May 23rd, the Wall Street Journal‘s Susan Carey published “FAA Closes a Hiring Runway,” reporting on the situation and quoting both faculty and graduates about this abrupt and inexplicable change of course. That opened the floodgates. Chicago Tribune transportation reporter John Hilkevitch followed up with and in-depth article on May 27th. These two stories were enough to stimulate many local newspapers and television stations to cover the story. A particularly well-done example is the five-minute piece aired by ABC’s 7News in Denver on June 2nd. If it is still online by the time you read this, I urge you to watch it:

Until recently, the only member of Congress to take an interest in this debacle was Sen. Patty Murray (D, WA), who grilled DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx about it at a March 14thhearing. But in late May, 29 House members, from both parties, sent a letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta complaining about the lack of transparency in the agency’s new hiring program. As far as I’ve been able to determine, there has been no public response from the FAA thus far.

Various former FAA officials I’ve talked with about this issue are appalled by the FAA’s change of course. Among other things, they cited a recommendation by the DOT Inspector General back in 2005 that the hiring process be changed in the opposite direction: that CTI graduates who passed the traditional controller aptitude test be exempted from some or all FAA Academy training and go straight to on-the-job training. Congress urged something similar in the 2012 FAA reauthorization measure. And many experts on the shift to the more technology-intensive NextGen paradigm for air traffic management favor requiring a college degree for all new controllers (which is not required for the new “off-the-street” hiring process).

Congress really should take action to get FAA controller recruitment back on course, eliminating the BQ and re-opening the door to CTI graduates.

New FAA rules raise concerns over air traffic controller qualifications, KSN

Published: Updated:

KSN is looking into new air traffic controller requirements, mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration, to see if they could be making matters better or worse, especially as several reports are pouring in about near-misses, airliner collisions, and close calls mid-air, at airports across the United States.

Viewer, Andrew Eakin, 22, is a Kansas native who graduated from Arizona State University in May of 2014.

“Air traffic control… It’s been a life-long dream of mine to become a controller,” said Eakin. “I entered in good faith into the CTI program at ASU expecting that it was going be the method to ultimately achieve my goal.”

Eakin tells KSN that last-minute intervention by the FAA foiled his plans to become an air traffic controller, only months before graduation.

For more than 20 years, the FAA has worked closely with Collegiate Training Initiative, or CTI, schools across the country. There are 36 nationwide.

KSN reached out to the only CTI air traffic control program in the state of Kansas; Hesston College. We spoke with the Aviation Program Director, Dan Miller.

“Our commitment to the FAA is to provide a teachable student; someone that comes with the basic knowledge,” said Miller.

While graduating from a CTI school was not required, it often gave students the upper-hand.

“The new requirements for becoming an air traffic controller is anyone with a high school education, and three years or more of progressive work experience,” said Eakin.

Among the new requirements however, an online biographical assessment is getting the most attention. Eakin failed the assessment and was “disqualified for further consideration” in becoming an air traffic controller.

Eakin is one of many reported CTI students, graduates, and current air traffic controllers who have failed the assessment.

In February 2014, 28,000 people reportedly applied for air traffic controller jobs with the FAA. Of those, however, Eakin says only 8% passed the 62-question assessment.

Some industry experts argue it is about ‘diversity.’

“This questionnaire has questions that have seemingly no relevance to the successfulness [sic] of air traffic controllers,” said Eakin.

“Explanations were given as to the reason why the changes were coming, but they were very poorly constructed,” Miller told KSN. “They did not offer significant time to digest what was going on before it happened,” he continued.

“It left us [asking], ‘Where do we fit? How do we fit? How do we provide an educated potential employee to the FAA when we have really limited understanding of where they’re at from an agency standpoint?’ said Miller.

Miller told KSN there is no guarantee.

“Aviation is changing at a faster pace than what we can stay current with, though we try very hard,” said Miller. “The idea that you’re going to walk in to an air traffic role and be there for the next 25 years has its limitations.”

According to the FAA’s website, in order to become an air traffic controller, you must:
1. Be a citizen of the United States
2. Start at the FAA Academy no later than your 31st birthday
3. Pass a medical examination
4. Pass a security investigation
5. Have “three years of progressively responsible work experience, or a Bachelor’s degree, or a combination of post-secondary education and work experience” amounting to three years in total
6. Pass the FAA air traffic pre-employment tests
7. Speaking English clearly


To continue reading about careers in aviation with the Federal Aviation Administration, visit or click here.

For more information about the Association of Collegiate Training Institutions, click here.

New FAA rules raise concerns over air traffic controller qualifications

House members demand FAA shed light on air-traffic controller hiring, Chicago Tribune

May 27, 2014|By Jon Hilkevitch | Tribune reporter
Twenty-nine members of the U.S. House sent a letter to the head of the Federal Aviation Administration over the holiday weekend complaining about a “lack of transparency’’ in the agency’s new off-the-street hiring policy for air-traffic controllers, and the lawmakers sought assurances that flight safety is not being impaired.

The House members also asked FAA Administrator Michael Huerta to provide a “clear description’’ of the new hiring process; the method used to score a new online biographical assessment that determined whether controller applicants moved on to the next level of testing; the assessment criteria that were used to evaluate an applicant’s aptitude to work as a controller; and the score needed to pass the biographical assessment, as well as releasing to each applicant their actual score.

The letter was dated Friday and a copy was obtained by the Tribune on Tuesday — the same day that the newspaper reported on the new FAA application process that recruits controller candidates exclusively from the general public.

The change effectively ended an almost 25-year partnership between the FAA and 36 colleges that produce graduates who have passed an FAA-approved air-traffic curriculum. The new hiring protocol also eliminated the preferred status for military veterans.

FAA officials said Tuesday afternoon that the agency will review the letter and respond to members of Congress directly.

The congressional letter stated that the FAA’s new hiring process is “intended to be a corrective measure to address alleged barriers to entry that exist for certain applicants.” The Tribune reported Tuesday that a study commissioned by the FAA last year concluded that college is a barrier to African-Americans being hired by the FAA.

“Not only did the FAA change its hiring process, but it did so with little or no advance notice or explanation to those planning to pursue an air-traffic control career with the agency upon completion of their studies or military careers,’’ the letter reads.

Members of the Illinois delegation who signed the letter were U.S. Reps. Randy Hultgren and Daniel Lipinski.

Graduates of collegiate air-traffic programs “expressed frustrations that they were neither told what score was considered ‘passing,’ nor provided with the actual ‘score’ when they were informed by the FAA whether or not they had been selected for further assessment,’’ according to the letter.

“It is apparent to us that there is a lack of transparency in the FAA’s interim revised hiring policy,’’ the letter reads.

The House members also said in the letter that “we want to ensure that in implementing this new hiring policy the FAA ensured the safety role played by air-traffic controllers would not be negatively impacted in the present and future.”