FAA: Controllers Can Return To Cockpits

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Until 2001, air traffic controllers were welcome to ride jump-seat in airline cockpits under a program that aimed to familiarize them with flight-crew procedures. This week, the FAA said it is reviving that program. "This [Flight Deck Training] gives our new generation of air traffic controllers a chance to see and hear what the pilot is experiencing so they know exactly what is happening on the other end of the microphone," said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. "As a pilot, I think this important training will give controllers a richer picture of the airspace system." The program aims to improve safety by giving air traffic controllers a greater understanding of the pilots' experience and workload in the cockpit. Controllers can take up to two trips per year, and cannot take the training in conjunction with any leave.

A controller must have advance approval to participate and must also submit an itinerary, as well as medical and security information, the FAA said. Foreign travel is not permitted. Once approved, the controller must present unique identification to access the cockpit. During the flight, the controller must complete pre-approved training objectives, such as observing pre-flight aircraft preparation, taxi instructions and procedures, departure delays and ground stops, types of approaches, en route weather and flow constraints. Flight Deck Training is a pilot program that the FAA will evaluate and monitor over the next six months.