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FAA Fast-Tracks Training for Some Prospective Air Traffic Controllers

The FAA is allowing graduates from certain college programs to bypass the agency's academy.

An American A319 landing in Miami (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

In a significant move to address staffing shortages and expedite the recruitment of air traffic controllers, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced that graduates of accredited college and university air traffic control programs will no longer be required to attend the FAA’s academy in Oklahoma City. Instead, these graduates will proceed directly to on-the-job training at various ATC facilities across the country, according to AvWeb.

This decision is part of a broader strategy to enhance ATC recruitment and increase staffing levels, which have been a persistent concern in recent years. The FAA’s actions are in response to a string of runway incursions and losses of separation that have raised concerns about the safety of the National Airspace System (NAS).

Under the new policy, graduates from the Air Traffic-Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) will bypass the seven-week foundation course at the FAA academy and immediately begin their one-to-three-year on-the-job training at operational ATC units. The FAA says it will collaborate with AT-CTI programs to ensure that their graduates possess the necessary skills and knowledge to seamlessly transition into on-the-job training.

A Broader Strategy

“The FAA will work with AT-CTI programs to ensure that graduates from these programs have the necessary skills to begin on-the-job training at a facility,” the agency said in an announcement. “These graduates still must pass the Air Traffic Skills Assessment (ATSA) exam and meet medical and security requirements.”

This move is expected to free up capacity at the FAA Academy, allowing it to accommodate more prospective controllers who have not completed an AT-CTI program. The FAA will continue to accept applicants from non-traditional backgrounds, provided they meet the agency’s stringent eligibility criteria.

In addition to bypassing the academy for college ATC graduates, the FAA is taking a series of other steps to bolster ATC recruitment, including expanding the ATC academy to ensure that every available seat is filled, offering year-round acceptance of already-trained military and private-sector controllers, establishing four advanced training facilities across the country by next spring, and acquiring ATC simulators and deploying them to 95 facilities by the end of 2025.

AirlineGeeks.com Staff


  • AirlineGeeks.com Staff

    AirlineGeeks.com was founded in February 2013 as a one-person blog in Washington D.C. Since then, we’ve grown to have 25+ active team members scattered across the globe. We are all here for the same reason: we love deep-diving into the fascinating realm of the airline industry.

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