DOT's Inspector General Auditing Controller Trainees' Failure Rate

The Department of Transportation's inspector general is beginning an audit of the Federal Aviation Administration's training of new air traffic controllers. Some 15,000 new controllers will be needed through 2016 to replace the large number of experienced controllers expected to retire, Lou Dixon, acting assistant IG for aviation and special program audits, wrote in a Dec. 5 memorandum announcing the audit will begin this month.

Basic training for new controllers takes place at the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City, Okla. Those who make it through go on to extensive training at their assignment posts. Controllers who fail in training are transferred within their post to a new operational area, transferred to a lower-level facility, or terminated from FAA employment, Dixon wrote.

The audit will determine the failure rate among new controllers and identify common causes and factors, if any, that are contributing to the failure rate, according to the letter.

Costello participated Dec. 5 in a news conference with U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., who chairs the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., a member of the Senate Transportation committee, to release a GAO report on runway incursions and incidents. "What this report makes clear is that the FAA needs to take immediate steps to address its inattention to runway and taxiway safety," Costello said. "I have been concerned for some time that the FAA is not adequately budgeting for safety programs, and the lack of focus on runway and taxiway safety since 2001 underscores this problem. The House bill to reauthorize the FAA, H.R. 2881, provides $42 million for runway incursion reduction programs and $74 million for runway status light acquisition and installation over the four years of the bill. It also requires the FAA to refocus its Strategic Runway Safety Plan. We want to work with the FAA to maintain the safest air space in the world, and a first step is to make sure we have the necessary funding and personnel in place. Passing comprehensive legislation to reauthorize the FAA in the Senate and enacting the provisions in H.R. 2881 will accomplish this goal."

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