ATC Training Over A (Pork) Barrel?
Colleges hoping for a slice of $7 million allocated for air traffic controller training in the proposed FAA budget are concerned about a stipulation that will exclude them and could end up closing their programs, while putting a bottleneck in the controller training and replacement process. The extra money, aimed at forestalling (or at least muting public pressure about) a looming controller shortage can only be used by the FAA's controller academy in Oklahoma City. The fact that the provision was presented by Rep. Ernest Istock (R-Okla.), who represents Oklahoma City, was not lost on officials of the University of North Dakota and 13 other institutions that offer basic controller training. Some fear Istock's bill is the first stage of an attempt to centralize all controller training in Oklahoma City. "We want to be able to understand what [Istock] wants to do with this bill," UND spokesman Gary Bartelson told The Kansas City Star. "Is he saying 'Let's close all the schools?'" The bill provision was passed by the House Appropriations Committee but it has a long way to go before it becomes law. Staff members of Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.) said it likely won't survive bipartisan opposition in the full House.