FAA Training:

Continued Improvements Needed in FAA's Controller Field Training Program

RCED-89-83: Published: Mar 29, 1989. Publicly Released: Apr 14, 1989.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO examined the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) training of developmental and full-performance-level air traffic controllers, focusing on: (1) FAA changes to improve its training; and (2) whether FAA evaluated contractor-provided training, as required.

GAO found that FAA: (1) needs to standardize its on-the-job training (OJT) for developmental controllers to achieve its objectives; (2) use of multiple OJT instructors was ineffective because developmental controllers did not receive consistent training or the benefit of a primary instructor; (3) certification procedures for controllers varied, and did not specify the required certification process; (4) inconsistently provided refresher training to full-performance-level controllers; (5) has not developed or tested its 10 proposed core training courses scheduled for implementation by 1990; (6) provided informal training, rather than thorough classroom instruction; (7) first-line supervisors believed that training was limited in such areas as backup systems, simulation, and specialized training; (8) data on developmental controller training was inadequate to assess training quality; (9) issued a new contract, at a cost of about $120 million, for classroom and laboratory training for developmental controllers; and (10) plans to expand its use of contractor-provided training, but does not intend to evaluate contractor performance.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FAA has prepared changes to a series of training orders in line with GAO recommendations.

    Recommendation: To improve controller training programs, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to revise its training orders to: (1) limit, to the extent practicable, the number of instructors per developmental controller; (2) establish a uniform process for conducting controller certification evaluations; and (3) specify minimum time requirements for refresher training hours.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FAA has revised its training orders to include this requirement.

    Recommendation: To improve controller training programs, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to ensure that facilities are providing required refresher training, such as training on backup systems.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FAA has revised its training orders to include this requirement.

    Recommendation: To improve controller training programs, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to enhance refresher training methods for full-performance-level controllers, including increased use of videotapes and enhanced computer-based instruction.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FAA has developed milestones for deployment and operational testing of an automated training management system. FAA is developing an FAA order that will delineate the responsibilities of management for contractor oversight at each management level. FAA has also evaluated contractor training in response to the recommendation.

    Recommendation: To improve its oversight of field training, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to: (1) establish milestones to ensure the timely development and implementation of the training tracking system; and (2) evaluate contractor performance, in view of the additional funds committed for contractor-provided training.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

 

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