Official Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
data shows the agency will miss its air traffic
controller hiring goal for fiscal year 2015.
This will be the fifth consecutive fiscal year
in which the FAA has not hired enough air
traffic controllers to keep up with the pace of
workforce attrition. As of August 22, 2015, the
FAA had only hired 1,178 of a planned 1,772 air
traffic controllers, putting the agency 34
percent behind its goal.
Of the 10,859 certified controllers, 30 percent
are eligible to retire at any time. There are
only 1,844 controllers currently in training to
replace them. Training controllers takes two to
four years, depending on the facility at which
the new hires are placed. Once placed at a
facility, an average 25 percent of trainees do
not complete the training and certify.
At inadequately staffed facilities, the FAA
requires controllers to work six-day weeks
through the use of overtime. Some of the
facilities that serve the busiest and most
complex airspaces are understaffed. These
include Terminal Radar Approach Control
facilities (TRACONs) in Atlanta, Chicago,
Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston
and New York. At these five facilities, the
number of fully certified controllers is below
the level deemed adequate by FAA standards, and
controllers are forced to work six-day weeks.