FAA's Push To Push Air Traffic Controllers
The FAA's latest plan to adjust its workforce of controllers amid a boom of attrition, retirement and training aims to seduce veteran controllers to particular locales with higher incentive bonuses that, according to the FAA, are necessary to offset the higher cost of living in those areas. Current openings include spots in Westbury, N.Y.; Aspen, Colo.; Nantucket, Mass.; and heat-challenged Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska; and span a total of 25 facilities nationwide. In New York, "incentives" translate to $27,000 as a transfer bonus for accepted applicants, plus up to $75,000 over four years as an incentive bonus. That's on top of the roughly $99,000 to $137,000 per year that the FAA says it pays its New York controllers. The move may bring attention to issues highlighted in a recent report from the Department of Transportation Inspector General that found one-quarter of current air traffic controllers are new hires still in training and 20 percent of facilities fail to match the FAA's limits for the number of controller-trainees allowed.
An ABC news report Thursday noted that the agency's job postings list "Vacancies: Many" and that the FAA is seeking to manage its shrinking force of seasoned air traffic controllers, which it ultimately must nearly replace over the next 10 years to counter attrition and retirements. All the while, the FAA and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) continue to disagree about staffing levels and pay, with NATCA frequently referring to the current condition as a crisis, and the FAA contending that everything is under ... control.