NATCA Departmental Update

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Air Traffic Controller Staffing Issue - NATCA Statement, June 27
NATCA Emphasizes Importance of Sustained Hiring & Training of Controllers

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had been expected to post a job vacancy announcement for the position of Air Traffic Control Specialist-Trainee on the federal government's official job site. The FAA on June 27 said that it is delaying posting that vacancy announcement.

NATCA President Paul Rinaldi issued the following statement regarding the FAA's decision to delay posting the vacancy announcement:

"Controller staffing reached a crisis level in 2015 and continues to be one of NATCA's primary concerns. We have 10,546 fully certified controllers on the job today that represents a 29-year low and is 1,200 fewer than just six years ago. Of the current total number of fully certified controllers, 17 percent are eligible to retire. It will take years of sustained hiring and successful training for the FAA to fully staff our facilities. We urge the Agency to not delay the next controller job bid any longer than is necessary."

Rinaldi continued, "The FAA has met its hiring goals the last three fiscal years. There is very little margin for error. If the FAA is unable to resume hiring in a reasonable timeframe, it risks major delays at the FAA Academy. If that occurs, and this staffing crisis continues, the FAA will be hard-pressed to maintain current capacity, let alone expand or modernize the system. A further reduction in controller staffing could have an immediate and detrimental effect on aviation capacity, meaning fewer planes in the sky and greater potential for delays."

Air Traffic Control Specialists (ATCS) are responsible for the safe, orderly, and expeditious movement of air traffic through our National Airspace System. All new ATCS spend their first several months of employment immersed in an intensive training program at the FAA Academy located in Oklahoma City. Last year, only about one-half of all FAA Academy students were successful. After graduation, developmental controllers then begin one to three years of classroom, simulator, and on-the-job training at their air traffic facility before achieving full certification.
 
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