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NATCA Applauds New FAA Rule Eliminating Unnecessary Barrier to Hiring Next Generation of Air Traffic Controllers - (1/13/2005)

WASHINGTON – Air traffic controllers today praised the Federal Aviation Administration for taking a key step in the urgent need to hire the next generation of controllers, lifting a policy that required students of air traffic control training programs to start employment with the agency within two years of graduation.

The new rule allows graduates of schools in the FAA’s Collegiate Training Initiative (CTI) to apply for a one-year extension of hiring eligibility each year until they reach the maximum hiring age for controllers of 31.

“This is great news,” NATCA Executive Vice President Ruth Marlin said. “NATCA has pressed for this change because the students should not have been made to suffer because the FAA was slow in hiring.”

Marlin said the 13 schools in the FAA’s CTI program have made “significant investments in program development and qualification to meet FAA standards. The program has demonstrated success. But that continued success is dependent on the ability of CTI schools to attract motivated and qualified candidates.”

“We are very pleased the agency has lifted this unnecessary barrier to staffing the nation’s air traffic control system,” Marlin stated.

Marlin added that the timing of the rule change is critical, since the agency announced last month it planned to hire 1,249 controllers in fiscal year 2006, the beginning of a 10-year hiring plan to replace the expected loss of 73 percent of the controller workforce.

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