Passed Enroute at the Academy: Here's My Experience

novemberzulu75

Newcomer
Jul 1, 2015
14
0
1
The FAA academy is a wild ride and an experience I will never forgot. I know that prior to getting there, I was afraid of the unknown and what to expect from it all. I enjoyed it and absolutely hated it all at the same time. This is my experience from the academy as an en route trainee and I hope it can encourage you and give you some clarity as to what to expect.

Some basic information: I'm 22 years old, OTS with no prior experience, and single. I am currently a stage 2 developmental at a center in the eastern region.

Statistics: Our class had 18 students make it to evaluation day, 11 passed/7 failed. Of those that passed, 5 were CTI and 6 were OTS. Of those that failed, 6 were CTI and 1 was OTS. As far as the whole OTS/CTI debate goes, it literally makes no difference. Some of the top students in our class were completely off the street and some of the most terrible were CTI. All that matters is how hard you work and how bad you want it.

Housing: I stayed at Kim's place. To me, this was the absolute best choice. Kim and John are amazing and they will do whatever they can to help you and give you what you need while you are there. All six of us that stayed at Kim's place passed the academy. We build a tight group and basically did everything together. The best advice I can give you is to build a strong study group. Find out where the majority of the kids in your class are living, and go live there. Do not isolate yourself while you’re there, you need each other to survive. As far as drinking and partying goes, keep it to a limit. A DUI is a guaranteed termination with the agency. There were some people that were able to party and do just fine. Know your balance, stay focused, and don't forget why you are there.

Basics Training: Everybody passes basics, unless you are of the 1% who for some reason or another couldn't get it together. If you are CTI, you have the option of skipping basics. Two kids in our class skipped it and did just fine. However, I would recommend taking it. You get a chance to bond with your classmates, build seniority, and make easy per diem money. You take five block exams throughout the five weeks that are worth no credit, however you should pass with a 70 or better, otherwise you have to talk with the supervisor. On the last day you take a final exam and if you receive a 70% or better, you pass. Anything less than that, you go home. I passed with a 98% and the majority of my class did the same.

Initial En route Qualification Training: The twelve weeks spent in the Stafford building is split between nonradar, radar and classroom academics. You are assigned two instructors that are your lead/co-lead and they should stay with you throughout the rest of your duration at the academy. You are assigned day shifts or night shifts and you rotate between the two on a weekly schedule. Day shift is 0700-1530 and night shift is 1530 to midnight. You will get plenty of breaks (10 minutes for every hour and about an hour lunch). You need 70 points to pass the academy. That means a 69.99% sends you home and 70.01% takes you to the same place as a 100%. The grading breakdown is as follows:

MAP: 2%
CKT 1: 4%
NONRADAR EVAL 1: 7%
NONRADAR EVAL 2: 7%
AIRCRAFT CHARACTERISTICS: 4%
CKT 2: 5%
CHKLST: 5%
RADAR EVAL 1: 22%
RADAR EVAL 2: 22%
RADAR EVAL 3: 22%


Nonradar: The first few weeks of nonradar start with classroom academics. You are given an abnormally large binder and your instructors will basically read the book to you in class. You are given the aero center map and are tested on it within the first two weeks. You get plenty of time to study it in class and mostly everyone in my class received a 100%. The test consists of you drawing the map and than answering 60+ questions on the computer that are multiple choice and fill in the blank.

After the academics, you start nonradar practice problems. You have one day of remote pilot training and than you run a total of 26 scenarios. Nonradar basically consists of a strip board, preprinted strips, lateral map, red/black pen, and a working brain in order to keep all the aircraft separated. You have 15 minutes to preplan your restrictions and then the scenario starts and ends in 30 minutes. You will have a row instructor sitting behind you watching your every move and writing down critiques and any A1 separation/airspace errors. Some of them were pretty grumpy, but most all of them were extremely helpful. Phraseology and strip marking are essential to passing nonradar, so practice, practice and practice some more! You will run 3 scenarios a day for two and a half weeks and then you take the nonradar evaluations. The day before you take the evaluations, you will take the CKT 1 test, which consists of of multiple-choice questions straight from the academic nonradar book.

Nonradar Evals: The evaluations were very straightforward in my opinion and the evaluators were more than fair. I would recommend dressing professional for evaluation day, make sure to introduce yourself and shake your evaluators hand, and than just sit down and show them what you know. You will run two evaluation problems and will have them complete in one day. You will also remote for two scenarios for your peers. The biggest issue people have on evaluation day is controlling their nerves, so find a way to get it together. I watched a couple of my peers lose their cool right before taking the evaluation problem and walked out with extremely low results. Be pumped, excited, and calm and just rock the show with what you know! Also don’t be discouraged if you don’t perform well on nonradar. Its worth a total of 14% of your overall, so if you a bomb them, you can most definitely recover in radar.

Radar: Thank goodness nonradar is over! Radar starts much as the same as nonradar. You get another gigantic binder and sit in the classroom for a couple weeks while your instructors read it to you page by page. The most important lesson you will get is your radar SOP and LOA lesson. It is your bible, so pay attention and make sure you understand it. You will also take your Aircraft characteristic test and CKT 2 test. Most people just memorized a chart for the A/C test and got a 100%. CKT 2 is a cumulative multiple-choice test with nonradar and radar concepts. The CKT tests aren’t easy, so make sure you are prepared.

ERAM Lab: This is the most fun part of your training. You will start by going down to the labs and learning some basic legacy and template commands. Then immediately after you will start running scenarios. You will run 46 problems total. They are 45 minutes in length. You will be controlling as the D-side, and for each problem you run, the FAA will be paying four people (R-side, Raytheon instructor evaluating you, remote pilot, and a person acting as other controllers/FSS) to work along side you. Problems 1-10 will conceptually build off each other and you will run 3 of each problem, for example 2a, 2b, 2c, 3a, 3b, and 3c, etc. After problem 10, you will run eight different 11’s and eight different 12’s that do not introduce any new concepts. The last sixteen problems are designed to build your speed, as they become increasingly more busy and complex. The scenarios will take you to a level that is a step higher than the evaluation problems. It’s honestly a lot of fun, but you will feel behind the entire time. It is extremely fast passed and it pushes you forward, and right when you feel like you are good, you fall over again. A week before evaluations, you will take the checklist test in the ERAM labs. It consists of a Raytheon instructor evaluating your ability to put in a flight plan, 6 7 10’s, J ring’s. It’s not complicated and most people received 100%.

Evaluation Day: Most evaluations are split between two days. You will either run two the first day and one the second day or vice-versa. The evaluation time/schedule that you had for nonradar will be exactly the same in radar. Just remember, it’s not over until it’s over. There are three different levels of difficulty for the evaluation problems, so don’t give yourself a false sense of hope just because you got an 80% on the first problem. Also don’t assume you are going home just because you bombed your first one. There was a kid in my class that got two 80’s on his first two problems, needed a 40% on his last problem to pass, and was mathematically eliminated on his last problem with a 22%. There was also a guy that recieved a 30% on his first problem and motived himself to pull through and score well on his last two problems. Fight till the end, it’s not over till its over!

Overall, the academy was an intense, challenging, and exciting time. I can honestly say that I have never worked so hard for anything in my life. I hope this information was somewhat helpful for you and I wish you the absolute best success at the academy.
 

muggsy

Rookie
Apr 15, 2015
71
0
6
P.S I have a ridiculous amount of self made study guides, cheat sheets, etc. from the academy. If you are interested, leave your email, and I will send it your way when I have time. Best of luck!
Be careful here and make sure that you're not giving out unauthorized information. There's been talk on other threads of people getting offers revoked and/or booted from training for this sort of thing. I know some of those were related to the BioQ but that might apply to training material as well (or not, I honestly don't know.. just a heads-up).
 

BadPassportPhoto

Trusted Member
Jun 13, 2011
347
7
18
ZTL
Very good write up, except basics doesn't count for seniority.
Yeah it does. If the CTI guy who declined basics and meets up with them in Initial En Route ends up at the same facility and area as a guy who did Basics, the Basics guy has seniority cuz he started 5 weeks earlier.
 

lowapproach

Epic Member
Oct 29, 2010
1,316
33
48
WV
At present, your initial training at the FAA Academy does not count towards seniority. A new hire will begin accruing seniority as of the date that an SF-50 assigns him to his first facility as an AG.
 

JoshATC

Epic Member
Jun 27, 2010
1,384
7
38
ZLA CPC
At present, your initial training at the FAA Academy does not count towards seniority. A new hire will begin accruing seniority as of the date that an SF-50 assigns him to his first facility as an AG.
Lowapproach is correct... under the Redbook currently while you are at Initial Training at the FAA Academy... Basics or the Radar portion you are not considered a BUE (Bargaining Unit Employee). After you pass the academy you become a BUE. Seniority is based off the date you become a BUE.
 

Plaaaane

Trusted Member
Apr 27, 2012
449
3
18
Anyone know how many 2014 hires still haven't started at the academy? Or what month the remaining hires are slotted to go?
 

lowapproach

Epic Member
Oct 29, 2010
1,316
33
48
WV
Seniority explained


http://www.natcareloaded.com/documents/natca/membership/seniority-explanation.pdf?wsid=0c7371038f14d2960cbf874bed2768cd37173455


FAA EOD is a tie breaker.
Service comp date is a tie breaker.


Therefore!

Person A. Starts Academy with Basics
Person B. Starts Academy after Basics

Both are assigned to facility same day.... Person A has more seniority.
Provided Person B isn't prior military, or hasn't previously worked for the federal government, etc., etc.
 

JoshATC

Epic Member
Jun 27, 2010
1,384
7
38
ZLA CPC
Seniority explained


http://www.natcareloaded.com/documents/natca/membership/seniority-explanation.pdf?wsid=0c7371038f14d2960cbf874bed2768cd37173455


FAA EOD is a tie breaker.
Service comp date is a tie breaker.


Therefore!

Person A. Starts Academy with Basics
Person B. Starts Academy after Basics

Both are assigned to facility same day.... Person A has more seniority.
Check what you posted again...

1. Cumulative NATCA Bargaining Unit Time

The very first thing is Cumulative NATCA Bargaining Unit time.... aka being a BUE..

You are NOT a BUE employee at the academy.