Money makes the world go round: A blog about the business and culture of all things entertaining in the world of theater, television, film, music, art, gadgets, gizmos and other life necessities (and probably other things, knowing myself)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

FAA Training Questioned

Obviously not a business entertainment blog entry - I need to change the name of this blog soon enough.  Still...enjoy:

The Federal Aviation Administration recently adopted a new data system for its aviation controller training program after an audit by the Department of Transportation found the FAA’s method outdated and inaccurate.

The modified system will more accurately track failure statistics among those in the program to help FAA sufficiently train 11,000 new air traffic controllers by the fiscal year 2019 to replace vacant positions left by retirees.

“The important thing is that we don’t change the training – we don’t look at the attrition rate and say, ‘[the program’s] too hard,’” said Paul Takemoto, a spokesperson for the DOT. “We have a strict standard that we have to adhere to.”

Nearly two weeks after the FAA adopted the changes recommended by the DOT, the organization faces new challenges in the overall sufficiency of its training program.

A recent incident involving a Southwest Airlines jet and a small plane flying dangerously close together resulted in the suspension of an air traffic supervisor and an investigation into the aviation controller training program by the National Transportation Safety Board.

“By placing this passenger aircraft in close proximity to another plane, the air traffic controller compromised the safety of everyone involved. This incident was totally inappropriate,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt in statement released Tuesday.

“We are reviewing the air traffic procedures used here and making sure everyone understands the protocols for contacting unresponsive aircraft.”

In a separate incident the week prior, a supervisor fell asleep while two aircrafts landed at Reagan National Airport. The supervisor was suspended. 

Update: Read my article about President Ronald Reagan's role on cycles of FAA staffing issues here.