Bipartisan Group, including Reps. Lipinski, Hultgren, and Bustos from Illinois, Introduce Legislation to Fix FAA's Flawed Hiring Procedure for Air Traffic Controllers

Today, U.S. Representatives Dan Lipinski (IL-3), Randy Hultgren (IL-14), Cheri Bustos (IL-17), Vicky Hartzler (MO-4), Matt Salmon (AZ-5), Tim Ryan (OH-13), Keith Rothfus (PA-12), and Elizabeth Esty (CT-5) introduced a bill to reverse the effects of the Federal Aviation Authority’s (FAA) interim hiring procedures which have passed over the most qualified air traffic controller candidates and raised serious concerns about transparency.  Reps. Lipinski and Hultgren introduced similar legislation, the SAFE TOWERS Act, last Congress.

For decades, the FAA has relied on colleges and universities to prepare air traffic controllers through the Collegiate Training Initiative (CTI), ensuring candidates are well-trained for the position.  Recently, the FAA changed its hiring practices with few details given about how the changes would be implemented and with little advance warning.  The new procedures have resulted in students who have spent large amounts of time and money training to be air traffic controllers unjustly disqualified by the opaque Biographical Questionnaire (Bio Q).  In addition, many have “aged out” after turning 31 during the application process, thus becoming ineligible for the job for which they were specifically trained.

“Lewis University in Romeoville has one of the premier CTI programs in the nation,” said Rep. Lipinski. “For years its graduates, along with our military controllers, have gone on to proudly work for the FAA.  Now, with these hastily implemented hiring procedures, the FAA is turning its back on the students and brave veterans that should be the backbone of our air traffic control system, in favor of a process that lacks transparency.”

Among other provisions, the bill would:


·         Restore preferred status for CTI graduates with school recommendations and qualified veterans back into the hiring process.  A qualified individual maintaining practical air traffic control experience obtained at FAA air traffic control facilities and civilian installations of the Department of Defense would also receive preferential consideration.

·         Eliminate the use of a Biographical Assessment that unduly disqualifies applicants, and require public disclosure of the assessment’s validation and criteria used before implementation.

·         Allow candidates who will have aged out from the interim hiring process, or were deemed unqualified by the Bio Q, the chance to reapply.