FAA streamlines air traffic controller training to address staffing needs

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced the introduction of an Enhanced Air Traffic-Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) program intended to bolster its hiring pipeline and accelerate the training of new air traffic controllers.

Photo from FAA.

The revamped program will enable FAA-approved institutions to replicate the rigorous curriculum found at the FAA Air Traffic Controller Academy. Graduates will be positioned to bypass certain academy training by going directly into localized instruction at air traffic facilities. All candidates under the Enhanced AT-CTI program must still pass the Air Traffic Skills Assessment (ATSA) exam while meeting necessary security and medical clearances.

In a press release, FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker said:

Hiring more air traffic controllers is a priority. We need more entry points for controller candidates and this enhanced college controller training program is an additional avenue to get controllers into facilities sooner.

The FAA will begin accepting applications from educational institutions to join the Enhanced AT-CTI program in April 2024. They aim to partner with schools capable of implementing the upgraded curriculum efficiently. The goal is to ensure the highest level of proficiency from Enhanced AT-CTI graduates through strict FAA oversight of technology, testing, and overall program requirements.

This enhancement of the AT-CTI program highlights the FAA's push to increase its air traffic control workforce and revamp training systems. These are among the key recommendations stemming from the National Airspace System Safety Review Team Report.

Additional FAA initiatives addressing these concerns include consistent recruitment of experienced controllers and the ongoing upgrade of tower simulator systems across the nation.