FAA Must Improve Its Controller Training Metrics To Help Identify Program Needs
On March 30, 2011, we issued a follow-up report to our 2009 audit on training failures among newly hired air traffic controllers. Our audit objectives were to: (1) evaluate the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) actions to improve its system for tracking the training progress of newly hired controllers; and (2) review FAA’s metrics for measuring and reporting the effectiveness of its controller training program. We found that FAA has taken several steps to address problems we identified in 2009 that contributed to an inaccurate training failure rate reported for new controllers. However, FAA continues to face challenges in identifying training program needs and measuring the overall success of the training program. FAA's current metrics do not provide a complete picture of program success because they assume that all in-progress controllers will successfully complete their initial training. As a result, FAA is not reporting an attrition rate that it can rely on to make warranted adjustments to the training program. During our review, we used alternate metrics that focused on the annual output of the training program. These showed a significantly higher fiscal year 2009 attrition rate for new controller training than what FAA reported. We recommended that FAA replace its current training metrics with metrics that focus on how many controllers complete their training or leave the program during a given period of time. FAA concurred with our recommendation and took appropriate actions, and we consider the recommendation closed.