I have been a controller for 35 years. I have trained dozens of CTI types since the inception of the program. Many were sharp kids who have done a great job for us. However, many had no business even being in an ATC facility. Six or eight classes over four years does not make you a viable candidate for ATC.... neither does a pilot's license. We have washed out a half-dozen high time pilots. When I went through the military we lost about 30% in training, another 5% or 10% in the field. When I was hired the FAA had a 20 to 40 percent washout rate in the academy, depending on the particular class. Almost nobody slipped through the cracks and represented a danger to the flying public. In my facility we've had two near, near, misses at a runway intersection and nobody was surprised who was on position when this happened. One controller just stared as both aircraft barreled toward the intersection ... one pilot caught it and aborted. In the other instance the controller cleared an aircraft for take-off with an aircraft landing on an intersecting runway. The CIC saw it... but too late. They missed by a couple hundred feet. These were not single engine types. In all instances air carriers, with hundreds on board. Don't get me wrong I'm not some grumpy old man ragging on college kids. I obtained a degree myself after I left the military. Unfortunately what I feel has happened is that the FAA does not want to cut its losses and get rid of folks who can't do the job. The FAA Academy for years was a rubber stamp for CTI kids, everybody got through. As I understand it is back to pass/fail ... thankfully. This profession is kind of like hitting a fast ball ... some can do it... some will never be able to do it. We have washed out college grads and had roofers come in and excel. We have washed out military pilots and had a kid who worked at Kmart tear up the program. The FAA has dumbed down the program immensely. And please don't tell me about the high success rate of CTI kids. When you lower the bar to a couple inches in the form of increased training time on position, double the amount that was given ten years ago, when getting through the Academy just takes showing up on time, and when you extend training time to reach well outside the probationary period (one year) allowing the union to fight a kid's termination, that two inch bar is not tough to jump over. Raw intelligence and the ability to perform under pressure makes a good controller, not classes in aviation management or some prof prepping you for the AT SAT. My heart goes out to the kids currently in CTI programs and those graduates not yet hired. The FAA mislead you ... or your school did. But if and when you do make it to the FAA you will find that being lied to by the FAA is fairly common. Check out the LMR Forums if you doubt me. I am pleased in knowing that going forward the best and brightest will again be hired competitively. Being the son or daughter of parents who can shell out 100k to send you to Embry Riddle is no longer a ticket in. That kid who goes to the local community college and works nights will now be on equal footing. Maybe the sense of entitlement and feeling that the FAA can't fire you anymore than the post office could will ebb away. We don't sort mail. If you can't do it hopefully you'll be gone. Sorry to be so blunt but it is what it is. By the way ... if you're a CTI kid who retests and does not score in the 90's, I'd stay start looking elsewhere. When I was hired you needed a 96 or better. I am not accounting for demographics that need to be filled, if you are an under represented minority in the workforce you might have a shot with a score in the eighties... if not move on. At my facility the CTI program did integrate the workforce. Honestly, my first thirty years in the profession was dominated by white males. Not the case anymore so the demographics at my facility are close to where they should be and finally, rightfully so. The FAA will have to carry the products of the CTI programs who would have formally never become full performance level controllers. We will weed some out via performance appraisals and deals (near misses) but not all. The rest of us will keep an eye on them. Some will grow into competency despite being checked out prematurely. Unfortunately many will be the lazy dull-witted person they were when they were hired and go through a career being carried by those of us who care enough about the flying public to put these JV players on the less busy positions or extend their breaks so they don't sit down when it is busy, or steer them to office jobs where they cannot place people in immediate danger. This is not just an indictment of the CTI program. Many military hires are just as incompetent and have benefited by the relaxed standards the CTI Program ushered in. I’m sure what is driving this change is not the incompetence and lack of talent the FAA has finally recognized, but rather, some new fangled system replete with PC buzz words and perpetuated by the office hacks in D.C. or some overpaid paid private firm helping the FAA to diagnose anomalies in the system. Whatever the reason it is a change for the better. Please send us bright motivated kids who don’t sit in the break room and play computer games or sleep. Send us those kids who are hungry to earn six figures and will study, pay attention and bust their hump to get there. I don’t care whether the kid was raised in Fairfield CT or Harlem NY … just send them!
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