Relationship of Air Traffic Control Specialist Age to En Route Operational Errors
FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION OKLAHOMA CITY OK CIVIL AEROMEDICAL INST
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Public Law 92-297, passed in 1971, requires that air traffic control specialists ATCSs hired after May 16, 1972 retire at age 56. The underlying rationale was that as controllers aged, the cumulative effects of stress, fatigue from shift work, and age-related cognitive changes created a safety risk U.S. House of Representatives, 1971. This hypothesis has been considered in two recent studies of en route operational errors OEs. The Center for Naval Analyses CNA, 1995 found no relationship between controller age and OEs. Broach 1999 reported that the probability of involvement in an OE increased with age. The purpose of this study was to re-examine the hypothesis that controller age, controlling for experience, was related to OEs. En route OE records 3,054 were matched with nonsupervisory ATCS staffing records for the period FY1997-2003. Poisson regression was used to model OE count as a function of the explanatory variables age and experience using the SPSS trademark version 11.5 General Loglinear GENLOG procedure. Overall, the Poisson regression model fit the data poorly Likelihood Ratio 2 283.81, p .001. The Generalized Log Odds Ratio was used to estimate the odds ratio for age. The odds of OE involvement for older controllers GE age 56 were 1.02 times greater than the odds for younger LE age 55 controllers, with a 95 confidence interval of 0.42 to 1.64. This range of odds indicated that neither age group was less or more likely than the other to be involved in an OE, controlling for experience. The analysis does not support the hypothesis that older controllers are at greater risk of involvement in an OE. These results suggest that the original rationale for the mandatory retirement of controllers may need to be re-examined. Additional research on age and ATCS performance is recommended.
- Commercial and General Aviation
- Personnel Management and Labor Relations
- Air Navigation and Guidance