The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently accepted applications for entry-level air traffic controller positions. During previous application solicitation periods, thousands of applicants applied to the FAA. We expect a similar response as a result of this most recent vacancy announcement. Although this announcement is a step toward lessening the current nationwide controller staffing crisis, it will take years of sustained hiring and successful training to fully end it. To reverse this staffing crisis, NATCA also urges Congress to pass FAA reform that will provide a stable, predictable funding stream.
NATCA President Paul Rinaldi said, “While our controllers do an outstanding job of ensuring our National Airspace System remains the safest in the world, the FAA struggles to adequately staff many of its largest, high-volume facilities. There is no margin to handle additional staffing declines without causing delays and affecting system efficiency.”
Rinaldi added, “Controller staffing has been a major concern for years. It reached a crisis level in 2015. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix to this problem, because it takes years to train a controller once they are hired. And we must continue to remain vigilant on this issue, as there are more retirement eligible controllers than the FAA has people in the pipeline to replace them. Without a stable, predictable funding stream, the problems caused by the staffing crisis are likely to get worse before they get better.”
The total number of fully certified professional controllers (CPCs) has dropped 10 percent since 2011 and continues to decline. The most recent FAA count indicates there are 10,532 CPCs. This number represents both a 28-year low and the disturbing continuation of a sharp five-year decline. The lack of a stable, predictable funding stream has made these problems worse. Despite some incremental progress since late 2015, the current total of CPCs is more than 2,300 short of the FAA’s overall operational target of 12,896.
Last year, Congress passed legislation that removed some of the bureaucratic red tape involved in the FAA’s hiring process. The next step for reforming this broken system must be ensuring a stable, predictable funding stream that adequately supports air traffic services, staffing, hiring, and training.
MORE INFORMATION: Doug Church, Director of Communications
Updated National Staffing Totals