...Many Don't Qualify

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And while some of those who lose their jobs may eventually find themselves back in the FAA fold, for some it's the end of the line. In e-mails to AVweb, AFSS workers claim that career counselors are advising them to dust off their resumes and not expect a job with the FAA. According to Dave Vitko, who works at the Altoona AFSS, many of his colleagues are within months of retirement, but the new system could result in their being terminated before they reach the magic numbers. "I, for one, will end up approximately three months short of a 20-year controller retirement if the A-76 goes off as planned," Vitko said. In an interview with GovExec.com, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey says the agency is doing all it can to help out the potentially affected workers. Blakey said as many as 1,000 AFSS workers have the qualifications to apply for thousands of controller jobs that will open in the coming decade. Those who can't work as controllers will get first preference for other ATC-related jobs for which they are qualified. A manager who chooses to hire someone else over a displaced AFSS worker has to provide justification, in writing, to the FAA's chief operations officer, Russ Chew.