OIG Worried About Controller Shortage (Corrected)
The FAA says it needs to train 11,700 new air traffic controllers in the next eight years to cover retirements and budget-related staff cuts, but the Washington Times reports the Transportation Department's Office of Inspector General is worried the agency's training arm won't be able to do it. For the past several years, the FAA has been trying to devise programs to speed up the training of controllers. The result is that it now takes 2.68 years to certify a controller compared to 1.9 years in 2009. The OIG says part of the problem is the revolving door in the training department at the FAA. In four years, there have been three reorganizations and no fewer than 20 initiatives started to speed up the training process. None of those initiatives has been completed.
Meanwhile, the OIG says the goal of ensuring all controllers get proper rest before their shift has been met with roughly 1 percent of controllers arriving for work without the required rest period. “Ensuring a well-rested, alert controller workforce is essential to the safe and efficient operation of the [national airspace system],” the OIG said. After a spate of high-profile incidents in which controllers were found sleeping during their shifts, the FAA enacted new rest rules. It also added a second person to graveyard shifts at facilities that only had one person on duty. The OIG says the agency should eliminate overnight shifts at 72 facilities that don't have the traffic to warrant them to save some of the $1.9 million the extra staffing and longer rest periods are costing the FAA.