FAA receives more than 57,000 applicants for air traffic control jobs

While the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) continues to deal with personnel issues almost daily, the agency says it has received 57,956 applications for the 1,500 air traffic controller positions open this year.

The median annual salary for air traffic controllers (ATC) was $138,556 in 2021. All applicants must be under the age of 30.

In a speech last week in Washington, DC, the head of the ATC union said the FAA was not hiring fast enough.

“In 2011, there were more than 11,750 certified professional controllers and additional trainees, or more than 15,000 total controllers on board the FAA,” Rich Santa told an industry conference last week. . “At the start of 2022, there were over 1,000 fewer fully certified controllers and 1,500 fewer controllers in total on board, a number that has been declining for at least the past 11 years.”

However, the FAA said its hiring targets are on target.

“The FAA is hiring new air traffic controllers every year, is on track to meet our hiring goal this year, and is reducing the training backlog caused by COVID-19,” the FAA said in a statement to ABC News. .

Air traffic controllers manage air traffic at airports across the country, and they are essential to the safety of plane passengers and the ability of airlines to maintain a punctual schedule.

“Unfortunately, FAA personnel are not tracking attrition,” Santa said. “With the introduction of new technologies and new entrants into the [National Airspace System]we should have 1,000 more controllers, not 1,000 less than ten years ago.”

The applicant’s number was first reported by Reuters. The applications come after the FAA’s annual hiring drive, which is now closed for the year.

In a summer marked by delays and cancellations, many airlines cited air traffic control staffing levels as a reason for travel slumps. Airlines for America (A4A), an industry group representing major US airlines, sent a letter to Congress in early June pointing the finger at air traffic controller staffing.

“Specifically, airlines are taking great care to reduce summer flight schedules while accelerating efforts to hire and train new employees to meet the surge in travel demand,” the letter said. “The FAA must also work to ensure the air traffic control system is able to meet demand.”

However, the FAA pushed back on that account, saying the data points to delays and cancellations for other reasons.

“Airline data shows that the vast majority of delays are not due to air traffic controller staffing,” the FAA told ABC News. “Where demand has increased, the FAA is adding additional controllers.”

Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg said it was a priority for his agency to ensure there were enough staff to meet demand.

“We are also working to ensure that FAA personnel on the air traffic control side are ready to support these flights,” Buttigieg told ABC News in early July. “So when we have an area where there’s a personnel issue, that happens in Florida where you’ve had huge demand and a lot of weather and other issues like military and even commercial space launches affecting the airspace.”

Candidates selected from the 2022 hiring window will join the 14,000 air traffic controllers across the country. Successful applicants will then attend a training academy in Oklahoma City before being deployed to an air traffic control tower anywhere in the country.

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