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AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL: FAA Needs to Better Prepare for Impending Wave of Controller Attrition

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The Federal Aviation Administration FAA is responsible for managing the nations air transportation system so that the 200,000 aircraft taking off and landing each day can safely and efficiently carry more than 700 million passengers per year. Because of the significant hiring in the early 1980s to replace strikers who had been fired, many thousands of FAAs controllers will soon become eligible to retire, potentially leaving FAA with too few fully trained controllers. Because of these concerns, the chairman an ranking democratic member of the Subcommittee on Aviation, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, asked GAO to 1 identify likely future attrition scenarios for FAAs controller workforce and 2 examine FAAs strategy for responding to its short- and long-term staffing needs, including how it plans to address the challenges it may face. To identify likely future attrition scenarios, we 1 reviewed FAAs 10-year hiring plan and associated attrition forecasts for approximately 15,000 controller specialists who actively control and separate traffic in the air and on the ground 2 analyzed FAAs workforce database to determine when the current controllers those at FAA as of June 30, 2001 world become eligible to retire 3 developed a computer model to predict future attrition based on historic levels and 4 developed and administered a survey to a statistically representative sample of controllers so as to obtain information on when they might leave FAA. GAOs analysis covers over 20,000 controllers-the 15,000 controller specialists whom FAA analyzed, plans about 5,000 controllers who supervise and manage the air traffic control system. GAO included the additional personnel because attrition from these positions is generally filled from the controller specialist ranks and, thus, omitting them would understate potential attrition among all controllers. In addition, among other things, we contacted all FAA regional offices, the 14 college7

Subject Categories:

  • Commercial and General Aviation
  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations

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