Controller Recruiting Drive In Full Swing

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With ads everywhere from college counseling offices to Craigslist, the FAA would appear to be serious about finding replacements for the thousands of air traffic controllers who will retire in the next 10 years. The armed forces-style recruiting campaign is playing up the free training and importance of the job while downplaying the stress, shift work and relatively low pay as it tries to hire an average of about 1,400 controllers per year. In addition to conventional and Internet advertising, the agency is also working with the Department of Veterans Affairs to train disabled veterans to become controllers. As always when controllers are the topic, whether the program is working depends on which side of the negotiating table you occupy. Ventris Gibson, who heads up the recruiting drive for the FAA, says she’s already found 1,300 prospects and the program is in its early stages. But the National Air Traffic Controllers Association says the campaign makes the FAA look desperate to accomplish something at the last minute that it should have been working on for years. "If they had this huge list, then why are they advertising on places like MySpace?" union spokesman Mike Conely told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "I don't think it's working worth a plumb nickel."