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What GAO Found

Why GAO Did This Study

Section 603 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 required us to review, within 180 days of the enactment of the act, the effect of providing a specified alternative to the current air traffic controller training approach. Currently, one path toward becoming an air traffic controller is by attending a college or university that offers aviation degrees and partners with FAA in the agency's Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative (CTI). The current training for CTI program graduates, who have completed the basic air traffic curriculum at their college or university, continues with initial specialization courses at the FAA Academy (Academy), and subsequent air traffic training at their assigned duty station. The proposed alternative training for those graduates keeps basic air traffic curriculum the same, but would shift instruction of initial specialization courses from the Academy to the 36 CTI schools. It would also include a new air traffic controller orientation session at the Academy, followed by on-the-job training at the assigned duty station. The mandate requires us to analyze (1) the cost effectiveness of the alternative training approach and (2) the effect that the alternative training approach would have on the overall quality of the training received by graduates of CTI programs. On July 20, 2012, we briefed Congress on our approach and preliminary findings on air traffic controllers' training costs and the effects of the suggested alternative on the skills and abilities trainees possess as they begin work at an air traffic control facility. This letter summarizes the preliminary findings that we shared with Congress at the July 20, 2012, briefings.

For information, contact Gerald L. Dillingham, Ph.D. at (202) 512-2834 or

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