ATC Hiring Changes Draw Protest

Jax

Senior Analyst
Nov 17, 2010
869
32
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N90-EWR
Let me see if I can put this whole, “I’m better qualified than you” theory of ATC hiring to rest.

Air Traffic Control is a very serious occupation. Unfortunately, one of the most demanding of jobs is controlled by the government. That in itself is not a overwhelming detriment, because it’s not the only downside. The Government is bound to strict hiring practices. This is fine, as long as you are hiring Mail Carriers or Secretaries or even Federal Judges. Great jobs, but those occupations, I don’t think, can hurt anybody. ATC is in too big of a job pool. And if you are not any good, you CAN hurt people. And that brings me to this observation/opinion:

There is only one safe/logical way for the system to work. This is it: The ATCS (Air Traffic Control Specialist) goes through a well-tested, well-proven timeline of events. The progression does not start with a “Hey, I think I’m going to be an Air Traffic Controller.” epiphany. It is more akin to the ATC job telling YOU that you MIGHT be a good fit. The only way to find that out is…the Military. They will put you in a program and let you know if you fit into ATC. I have done this job for a very long time, and can tell you that “under-fire” is the only way. Be damned any school (including any military school). You can have guys run around the room holding up plastic airplanes all day and it doesn’t do anything for anybody.

The Military is the only way for several reasons:
1) The training is way tougher than anything the FAA hands out. This is how the job (and you) finds out if your skin is thick enough. And it better be, or you will get spanked.

2) You get a chance to see if you like ATC. Once you are in the FAA and start making big money, if you discover you don’t like ATC, you’re screwed. You are NOT giving up that check (and neither is your spouse).

3) Keeping in line with #2: Introduction to ATC while in the Military not only gives you and the job an opportunity to see if you are compatible, you find out if you truly LOVE running airplanes. If you can stand the rhythm, the hectic pace and the multi-tasking. If you find that you do have ATC in your blood, you would not be so concerned about WHERE you go to run traffic. You just want to run traffic. All this business about wanting to be at a facility two blocks from Mommy’s house shouldn't matter to you. You just want to plug in.

By showing up with no experience in a job this demanding, or any job this taxing, is not a good idea. But in the FAA, it can be brutal. If you become the trainee of an “Old Salt”, and you have “mic fright” or you’re timid or thin-skinned, things are not going to go well for you. You are insulting your trainer. How dare you show up looking for $100,000 and you don’t know which one is number one, a C182 or a T-38.

Sports analogy: In ATC, the FAA is “The Bigs”. You wouldn't go knocking on the New York Yankees’ door because your Dad said that he thought you had a nice slider. Would you?

Final note: I’m not saying that ATC has to be 100% prior military. That would be asking a lot. But I think that the occupation needs to be heavily loaded with “under-fire” experience. No other place to get that other than Military ATC.
This is incorrect!

Some of the best controllers that I've ever seen were OTS hires. Not CTI, and not Military. I'll agree that for the most part the military provides very good experience, and is an excellent path to follow to become an ATC.

I worked as a bank teller out of high school, and then straight into ATC at N90. Many others where hired out of all kinds of random civilian jobs straight into the job like me, and did fine. About half of the veteran controllers with more than 15 years on the job that work here at N90 were OTS hires.
 

JNev

Senior Member
Sep 17, 2012
192
2
18
Baltimore/Philly
The fact that people are constantly debating the point is dumb. The individual who I was responding to was throwing out numbers and said that it was a 7.6% chance that a CTI student would be more successful in training than an OTS hire. This might be correct, but that's what is funny. Seven percent difference proves the failure of the program. 100K in student loans for a 7% better chance of getting certified. I'd take my chances.
Idk who you're talking to with 100k in student loans from CTI lol That's insane, my CTI was maybe only 1/5th of that for both years combined
 

Kilo11

Newcomer
Feb 19, 2014
2
0
1
I worked as a bank teller out of high school, and then straight into ATC at N90. Many others where hired out of all kinds of random civilian jobs straight into the job like me, and did fine. About half of the veteran controllers with more than 15 years on the job that work here at N90 were OTS hires.
Congrats on your success!
 

chaseus1

Senior Member
Nov 24, 2013
199
1
18
and it's not necessarily about whether its worth it for a student...that's up to an individuals personal judgment and financial situation. it's if it's worth it for the FAA to hire an extra 76 washout controllers a year when it could theoretically be avoided by using a program that they promoted and sanctioned but have (seemingly) recently negated...
I've seen a few people mention this. I'm not really sure if it is important, however.

Sure, the FAA may save a bit by not hiring 76 washout controllers a year.

I would think though that those savings are negated by what it costs the FAA to run the CTI program (I imagine at least 20 FAA employees help manage the oversight, including visits to campuses, approving training programs and equipment, etc), plus the time spent administering so many different hiring systems.

Plus, the FAA has spent a lot of money defending lawsuits from ex PATCO, Flight Service, and maybe minorities based on the CTI being given preference.

Just 20 FAA employees working to manage the CTI program would be over $2 Million a year in salaries and benefits.

I'm just saying, it would be very hard to figure out whether the CTI program saves the FAA money or has it cost them in the long run.
 

phillyman2633

Epic Member
May 13, 2010
4,203
88
48
International waters
www.drudgereport.com
The fact that people are constantly debating the point is dumb. The individual who I was responding to was throwing out numbers and said that it was a 7.6% chance that a CTI student would be more successful in training than an OTS hire. This might be correct, but that's what is funny. Seven percent difference proves the failure of the program. 100K in student loans for a 7% better chance of getting certified. I'd take my chances.
When I went through CTI, FAA purported that CTI had 100% better chance than OTS because they were supposedly done with OTS hiring. Not debating whether or not CTI better prepares you for ATC, just saying that the reason most of us who went through CTI did so because we were told that OTS hiring was over with, leaving us with either CTI/military as the only options to get into the field.
 

StuSEL

Moderator
Aug 23, 2009
1,014
10
38
You know where.
I've seen a few people mention this. I'm not really sure if it is important, however.

Sure, the FAA may save a bit by not hiring 76 washout controllers a year.

I would think though that those savings are negated by what it costs the FAA to run the CTI program (I imagine at least 20 FAA employees help manage the oversight, including visits to campuses, approving training programs and equipment, etc), plus the time spent administering so many different hiring systems.

Plus, the FAA has spent a lot of money defending lawsuits from ex PATCO, Flight Service, and maybe minorities based on the CTI being given preference.

Just 20 FAA employees working to manage the CTI program would be over $2 Million a year in salaries and benefits.

I'm just saying, it would be very hard to figure out whether the CTI program saves the FAA money or has it cost them in the long run.
Likely not. This program had so little oversight it was mind boggling.
 

Mjones1231

Newcomer
Mar 1, 2014
3
0
1
I agree that CTI does not make you a good controller. But now look at it this way. Shouldn't a CTI at least get a chance to show they can or cannot do the job? When I was in my junior year of college the FAA closed the off the street hire route so at that time "I HAD to be CTI to be qualified" now it was all a waste? It is just a hard pill to swallow.
 

RobertB

Senior Analyst
Aug 18, 2008
869
6
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I agree that CTI does not make you a good controller. But now look at it this way. Shouldn't a CTI at least get a chance to show they can or cannot do the job? When I was in my junior year of college the FAA closed the off the street hire route so at that time "I HAD to be CTI to be qualified" now it was all a waste? It is just a hard pill to swallow.
Having a bachelors from a CTI school is no different than an engineering degree from Penn State...