Report Recommends Changes In ATC Training

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An independent panel has reviewed how the FAA hires and trains air traffic controllers, and this week released a report (PDF) with 50 recommendations for improvements. The panel, made up of five experts in the field, including one from the FAA and one from the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, recommended that the FAA should expand its use of mobile simulator labs, establish a yearly refresher training course for senior controllers who act as trainers, and more closely oversee the curriculum of ATC training programs in colleges around the country. "This report shows us we are doing a great job, but there are things we can and will do better," said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt.

The panel also investigated how professionalism is taught to future controllers, and found that the FAA Academy "does not adequately establish a true concept in professionalism." Most professions, such as medicine and law, require a course in ethics and professional standards, the panel said. Yet, "there is no current requirement for a course similar to these for air traffic controllers," according to the report. A test program is in the works for several en route centers that is scheduled to launch next month. The program will create a peer-to-peer assessment, providing mentorship and a lead-by-example approach to improving professionalism. It will be offered at all en route centers next year.