A blog about Politics, Texas, and Academia

Houston Air Traffic Controllers Are Recently Hired with Little Training

In Airlines and Air Travel, Houston, Military on June 18, 2008 at 11:05 am

I’m already nervous enough when I fly, but this morning’s story from the Associated Press has now confirmed my need to drink when I’m soaring above the skyline.

From the AP:

Feds: Many of Hobby’s air traffic controllers have little training

 10:09 AM CDT on Wednesday, June 18, 2008


FORT WORTH, Texas — Two big airports in Texas have among the least-experienced staffs of air traffic controllers in the country, according to congressional researchers.

Many of the controllers who guide flights in and out of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Houston’s William P. Hobby Airport are recent hires with little training, the Government Accountability Office said in a report issued last week.

Hobby ranked last in the percentage of fully certified controllers, at 56 percent, although officials for the Federal Aviation Administration say the airport has since added more certified controllers.

Hobby was followed by LaGuardia Airport in New York, with 61 percent of its controllers being fully certified, then DFW at 62 percent.

Five airports had at least 90 percent of their controllers fully certified.

Controllers are hired by the FAA, not the airports. The agency is facing a tidal wave of retirements in the next few years — 15,000 by 2017. That’s because many current workers were hired soon after President Reagan fired more than 11,500 striking controllers in 1981.

The article also points out that some of Houston’s air traffic controllers are too busy monitoring trainees; therefore, stress and fatigue levels are rising. One of the contributing factors to the FAA’s decrease in the number of air traffic controllers being hired is the smaller recruiting pool from the military. With larger re-enlistment bonuses being offered, trained and certified controllers are staying with military career and not merging into the civilian workforce.

The average salary for air traffic controllers ranges from $45,000 – $104,000, depending on experience. More information about employment can be obtained from the U.S. Department of Labor.

This weekend’s DVD rental pick:  Pushing Tin (1999) starring John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton. Comedy/Drama.

from IMDB:

Nick “The Zone” Falzone (Cusack) is an air traffic controller at New York TRACON, where it’s busy 24 hours a day. He’s acknowledged as the best, until a quiet guy Russell Bell (Thornton) arrives on the scene from the Southwest somewhere. Russell and his wife Mary don’t quite fit into the close-knit community of controllers and their wives, and a rivalry soon builds.

  1. That is frightening, especially since I am using Hobby in August. You’re frightened because ATCs have little training, shouldn’t you have the same doubts about a certain candidate for President?

    … yea, yea, I know. That was a cheap shot – but ought to be considered. 😉

  2. Touché…Sorry your girl couldn’t cut the mustard. 😀

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