Skipping Air Traffic Basics?

Hammer

Newcomer
Oct 27, 2011
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I hear that applicants from the February 2014 announcement who receive a TOL will also get instructions on how to opt out of taking Air Traffic Basics. For instance, if you've got a CTI degree or you've got a CTO, you may be able to opt out of Air Traffic Basics if you wish. Air Traffic Basics is a 5-week course that precedes the initial qualification courses (Tower or Enroute or ITR). I've tried to figure out why the FAA would allow this, and the only reason I can think of is purely cost-driven.

When those TOLs go out, I've heard that the opt-out paperwork will be included. The important thing to know about these forms is this: Once you opt out of Air Traffic Basics, you cannot change your mind later and decide you want to take it. Your written decision is irrevocable. Secondly, you will be responsible for the material taught in the Air Traffic Basics course, whether you opt out or not, when you get to the initial qualification courses (Tower or Enroute or ITR).

In looking at this process, I cannot imagine any scenario by which a student would gain anything by opting out of Air Traffic Basics. Here's why...

1. The Air Traffic Basics course has about a 99.9% pass rate, the last time I checked. No one has failed in years.
2. For CTI graduates who have been out of college for over a year (which is mostly everybody), Air Traffic Basics serves as a great review and gets you accustomed to taking FAA-style tests.
3. For former military and CTO holders, Air Traffic Basics will teach you the "FAA way." This is very important when you move into the next courses, and on to your facility. The "military" way is not the "FAA" way, and Air Traffic Basics will do a lot to help you "unlearn" the old way of doing things.
4. You will be responsible for the material anyway, so why not have it fresh in your mind.
5. You'll get an additional 5 weeks of salary, federal employee benefits, and per diem, so taking Air Traffic Basics will cost you nothing out of pocket.
6. If you skip Air Traffic Basics, you'll be put directly into the initial qualification course with people who chose to take Air Traffic Basics. Not only will they likely have an advantage over you in facility placement at the end of the course (the highest scoring student gets first choice, etc.), they will have an earlier EOD date, which could affect your seniority down the road, particularly if several of you in a class go to the same facility (which happens quite a bit). This one fact alone would decide it for me.
7. Opting out is irrevocable. If after a few months word gets out that students who skipped Air Traffic Basics are scoring lower than those who didn't skip, it is too late for you if you opt out now.

I would be very hesitant to opt out, but I'm sure that some will feel like "I got this" and want to cut 5 weeks off of their training down there in Oklahoma City. Considering the 7 reasons above, I'm not sure that's wise.
 

mbalunda

Epic Member
Jan 31, 2009
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It'd be a huge mistake to skip it. Not to mention an extra 30 days of per diem really adds up lol
 

cas52782

Senior Member
Jan 25, 2011
221
3
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I plan on taking it and I have 6 CTOs. The reason being: learning the FAA way...and the extra per diem won't hurt :)
 

AF_ATC

Trusted Member
Nov 20, 2009
477
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The only downside I would see is the extra 5 weeks at the academy. That's potentially 5 weeks you could've already been at your facility. Personally, I'd rather be 5 weeks closer to CPC than spend 5 extra optional weeks at the academy learning the difference between a prop, turbo prop, and turbine engine is.

For CTI and OTS, I would highly recommend. For military, I would weigh the cost vs gain of attending. How much are you really going to gain?
 

mbalunda

Epic Member
Jan 31, 2009
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The only downside I would see is the extra 5 weeks at the academy. That's potentially 5 weeks you could've already been at your facility. Personally, I'd rather be 5 weeks closer to CPC than spend 5 extra optional weeks at the academy learning the difference between a prop, turbo prop, and turbine engine is.

For CTI and OTS, I would highly recommend. For military, I would weigh the cost vs gain of attending. How much are you really going to gain?
Not really how it works. The say the basics class starts in July, then the en route training will start in early August. If you skipped basics you'd just be starting in August with the people who took that July basics class. Chances of getting an earlier class date is no guarantee
 

newby

Newcomer
Jan 26, 2012
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washington
The only downside I would see is the extra 5 weeks at the academy. That's potentially 5 weeks you could've already been at your facility. Personally, I'd rather be 5 weeks closer to CPC than spend 5 extra optional weeks at the academy learning the difference between a prop, turbo prop, and turbine engine is.

For CTI and OTS, I would highly recommend. For military, I would weigh the cost vs gain of attending. How much are you really going to gain?
But how likely is it that your going to get into an academy class during those 5 weeks the others are taking the basics class? My guess would be slim to none as they will likely go straight from basics to Q courses.

Edit: didn't look at the second page where it was already brought up, doh.
 

lpgray

Rookie
Jun 16, 2012
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Mesa, Arizona
Kind of a hard decision for me seeing as I just finished CTI 3 months ago.
Its a hard choice but it would probably be the best choice if you take the basic training. You never know, what if the CTI doesn't cover everything. I would do it personally 5 weeks isn't really all that bad. It would probably better it.
 

FM_Weasel

Senior Analyst
Dec 9, 2008
988
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I'd recommend the basics course to anyone. Non-pilot aviation knowledge of controllers is already pretty bad. Basics at the very least would be a refresher course for aviation minded people, if not a good primer on basic aviation concepts. This stuff DOES actually matter.

What do they teach in air traffic basics?
It's like a private pilot "lite" course. Charts, maps, navaids, comms, rules, airspace, approach plates, aviation weather etc.
 

triggz00

Senior Member
Mar 23, 2014
174
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Southwest, FL
I am thinking about skipping basics if i apply on the march ots bid. I failed out in december on the PVs and most of the stuff is fresh. Do you have to take a test to skip at basics?
 

StuSEL

Moderator
Aug 23, 2009
1,014
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You know where.
I am thinking about skipping basics if i apply on the march ots bid. I failed out in december on the PVs and most of the stuff is fresh. Do you have to take a test to skip at basics?
This likely won't be an option for the March 2015 OTS hires. Just a hunch, but you'll probably have to retake it if you get selected again.
 

ajmezz

Epic Member
Apr 8, 2010
1,811
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Are you sure you can even reapply? I've always heard that you can't reapply/get hired on the same type of bid twice if you failed out at anytime.