University President Proposes Accelerated Training Program
It's no secret that a critical
shortage of air traffic controllers is close at hand. What has been
a secret is whether anyone has a real-time solution.
Enter Embry-Riddle President George Ebbs, who tells the Orlando
Business Journal he might just have the key to solving this issue:
an accelerated controller training program.
Ebb says his idea would not only put up to 600 more controllers
in towers every year (right now, the government trains about 1,000
a year), but would actually save the government up to $20
"We want to ramp up what we are able to do here to meet the
nation's needs and save the government money," says Ebbs.
The General Accounting Office, Congress's investigative branch,
says more than half the controller workforce will be gone by 2011.
Blame the Reagan administration for firing PATCO controllers. Blame
the lengthy training process each controller must undergo. For
whatever reason, even by replacing every retiring controller with a
new hire between now and then will still leave the government 1,300
Embry's ATC program is one of the biggest in the country, yet it
only graduates about 100 new FAA candidates each year. Ebb wants
Congress to allow his graduates to sidestep additional ATC training
in Oklahoma City. His other big idea is to take candidates who
already have a four-year college diploma and enroll them in what,
for lack of a better word, would be ATC "graduate school."
"Within six months, they could be fully qualified to be
full-time air traffic controllers. We could add 600 new controllers
every year through the program," Ebbs says.
NATCA likes the idea. "We think accelerating the air traffic
control portion after you get a four-year degree is a great idea,"
says NATCA Executive Vice President Ruth Marlin.
But Marlin warns, "The screening functions of the academy have
been very effective. Before we skip over those, we need to evaluate
the success rate of those that didn't go to the academy."