Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University


Approximately seven years after the air traffic control strike in 1981, the FAA commissioned several studies to review the procedures that were used to train air traffic controllers. The results of these studies made recommendations that collegiate institutions could provide initial ATC training and possibly bypass the entry-level training at the FAA Academy. The recommendations for these studies was the basis for the Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI). In 1989 approval was granted for the CTI program, which began with five schools and it has grown to 36 collegiate institutions. A partnership was established and the schools were required to teach curriculum that covered air traffic control basics. Graduates from these schools, after receiving a recommendation were eligible for hire as an entry-level controller and bypassed the initial five weeks of training at the FAA Academy. Over time, different entry tests were required such as the OPM test and today’s Air Traffic Training and Selection tool (ATSAT). Different methods were used for hiring controllers until an independent review panel and a barrier analysis suggested dramatic changes as to how the FAA hired controllers. Lack of timely budgets and trying to meet mandated diversity requirements have impacted the process and in particular the CTI schools. The new hiring process instituted in February 2014 has caused a great deal of confusion and lack of understanding. It appears the FAA has reverted to hiring less-qualified applicants for positions as air traffic controllers and many are wondering if this affects aviation safety. This paper will provide a history of the CTI program from its beginning to where it is today and where the program may end up in the future.