Is the FAA Rejecting the Best Controllers?, FLYING

Recent changes in the methodology used by the FAA to hire air traffic controllers may have resulted in some highly qualified candidates finding themselves without a job. A report from CBS News claims that some of the top ranked students from highly respected ATC programs have been rejected as a result of new pre-employment testing.

The FAA changed the way it hires air traffic controllers at the beginning of the year, stepping away from the traditional interview process and experience questionnaire, which was done as a part of the Air Traffic Standardized Aptitude Test (AT-SAT), to new standardized testing through what the agency refers to as a biographical assessment, also referred to as the bio-data assessment. Only those candidates who pass the biographical assessment will be invited to take the AT-SAT.

According to the FAA, the biographical assessment serves as an initial qualifier and measures general and ATC-specific work experience, education and training, work habits, academic and other achievements, specific life experiences and other factors. The new process was implemented to “increase the speed, efficiency and objectivity of the decision making process.”

Yet some of the top graduates of the Community College of Beaver County Air Traffic Controller Program, a highly ranked ATC program in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, have been rejected based on the bio-data assessment results, the CBS article says. Graduates of the program question the validity of some of the questions in the bio-data assessment.

The FAA is currently evaluating the new hiring process and is considering public feedback while making possible changes before the next round of hiring begins. The agency plans to hire 6,600 controllers in the next five years, according to an announcement by FAA Administrator Michael Huerta earlier this year.

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