FAA Controller Training Plan To Be Audited

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Does the FAA have an adequate plan in place for training the 15,000 new air traffic controllers it plans to hire over the next 10 years? That's what the Department of Transportation's Office of Inspector General (OIG) is wondering, and it plans to commence a study of the issue next month. Top among its concerns is whether the FAA's plans for training at the facility level are adequate. Facility training takes three to five years, and comprises classroom, simulation and on-the-job training. It's the longest and most expensive part of certifying new controllers. "FAA projects that [controllers-in-training] will make up 25 percent or more of the entire controller workforce through fiscal year 2014," said David Dobbs of the DOT OIG. "Furthermore, as experienced controllers retire, FAA will increasingly lose more experienced [on-the-job] instructors, who are critical components of facility training." The goals of the OIG audit will be to assess the adequacy of the FAA's training plans and also to determine its progress in implementing key initiatives for reducing facility training time and costs. The DOT OIG will also be looking next month at runway status lights to see if they prevent runway incursions, and if they do, whether the FAA is making progress implementing the system.