FAA scrambling to hire more air traffic controllers ahead of summer travel

The FAA is on a hiring spree right now as it looks to add more air traffic controllers. There is a shortage across the country, with every two out of 10 air traffic controller positions vacant, which could affect summer traveling.

The lack of air traffic controllers is causing some major airlines to reduce their service leading into what is expected be a busy summer.

For example, American Airlines plans to trim its service at a pair of major airports in New York because of the low numbers of air traffic controllers in a tower at a terminal radar center in that region. Because of that, delays could jump by 45%.

United and Delta Airlines have also asked the FAA to be allowed to cut up to 10% of their flights.

Right now, airlines are flying about 10% fewer flights compared to 2019 before the pandemic.

Air traffic controllers are responsible for guiding planes from a tower during their flights and making sure they are properly separated from other planes that may be in the air.

Some of the basic requirements to apply for the job include:

  • Being a U.S. Citizen
  • Younger than 31 years old at the time the application window closes
  • Having either 3 years of general work experience, 4 years of education leading to a bachelor’s degree, or a combination of both

The union that represents air traffic controllers said staffing levels dropped 10% over the last decade.

The push to hire more is not new and was evident locally.

Almost a year ago, the FAA hired 30 new air traffic controllers for the Hilliard Center.

Also last year, nationally the FAA received 58,000 applications, which boils down to 38 candidates for every 1 open position.

The FAA is looking to hire about 3,300 air traffic controllers over the next two years.

The application window opened up early Friday morning but won’t be open long.

People can apply between now and Sunday night to become an air traffic controller.

About the Authors:

Khalil Maycock joined the News4JAX team in November 2022 after reporting in Des Moines, IA.