Second-Career Training for Air Traffic Controllers Should Be Discontinued

CED-78-131: Published: Jun 29, 1978. Publicly Released: Jun 29, 1978.

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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employs over 18,000 air traffic controllers. In the interest of aviation safety, controllers must meet specific health and performance standards or be removed from duty. Since limited opportunities exist outside the government for the specialized knowledge and experience of controllers, Congress established the Second Career Program in 1972 to provide air traffic controllers with up to 2 years of training for a new career.

About 50 percent of controllers eligible for the Second Career Program have declined training. An analysis in three FAA regions showed that only 7 percent of the controllers completed training and obtained employment in new careers for which they trained under the program. Program costs averaged $370,000 for each successful program participant. About 98 percent of the controllers removed from duty had mental and physical impairments; many were the victims of advancing age. Most of the controllers removed from duty chose to use income security and training benefits available under other federal programs rather than begin a second career. In addition, controllers were not adequately counseled by FAA, and no effort was made to find employment within the federal government.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: Congress should discontinue the Second Career Training Program for air traffic controllers. Concurrent with the discontinuance of the program, the Administrator, FAA, should: (1) adopt and implement a policy to reassign, to the fullest extent possible, controllers removed from air traffic control duty within FAA; and (2) assist controllers to choose a course of action, considering the potential for reassignment within FAA or reemployment in another federal agency and eligibility for benefits from other federal programs.


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