Audit Reports

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Review of Screening, Placement, and Initial Training of Newly Hired Air Traffic Controllers

Project ID: 

On April 1, 2010, we issued our report on the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA's) policies and procedures for screening, placing, and initially training newly hired air traffic controllers. We conducted this review at the request of the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Aviation. Our audit objectives were to: (1) evaluate how FAA determines whether candidates have the requisite abilities to become successful controllers; (2) determine what procedures FAA uses to place controllers at air traffic facilities; and (3) assess whether the initial training provided by the FAA Academy adequately prepares new controllers for facility on-the-job training.

We found that FAA’s process for selecting and placing new controllers does not sufficiently evaluate candidates’ aptitudes because FAA does not effectively use screening test results or consider candidates’ Academy performance to help determine facility placement. As a result, new controller candidates—many of which have no prior air traffic control experience—are being assigned to some of the busiest air traffic control facilities with little consideration of whether they have the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to become certified controllers at those locations. In addition, facility managers we spoke with stated that candidates arrive after passing Academy training unprepared to begin facility training, indicating the need to restructure FAA’s testing and training procedures. We recommended that FAA evaluate and redesign its current screening test to consider candidates’ skill sets, assign candidates to a facility based on their Academy performance, and improve its Academy training program by implementing the recommendations of FAA’s 2007 Controller Training and Development Group. FAA partially concurred but proposed acceptable corrective actions to all of our recommendations.