Air Force Faces Controller Competition

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With the FAA set to start hiring hundreds of air traffic controllers this year, the question arises, where will all those new hires come from? Part of the answer is, from the ranks of the U.S. military -- which has some Air Force officials already starting to fret. "We're certainly looking at it," Sgt. Donald Ball of the Air Force Flight Standards Agency at Andrews Air Force Base (Md.) told Stars & Stripes. "We're concerned, but it's kind of hard to speculate." The FAA lures the military controllers with higher salaries, generally from about $70,000 to $120,000. Ball said the service retains 53 percent of its first-term airmen as controllers, but by the 10-year mark, 75 percent are gone. To head off the possible exodus, Ball said the Air Force is now reaching out to controllers, extolling the benefits of the military over civilian work, emphasizing the free medical care, housing allowances and other enticements not offered by the FAA, and offering bonuses to those who re-enlist. "It's called re-recruiting, and we're doing that currently," he said.