Evaluation of an Alternative Method for Hiring Air Traffic Control Specialists with Prior Military Experience
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Evaluation of an Alternative Method for Hiring Air Traffic Control Specialists with Prior Military Experience

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    This study was conducted to assess an FAA program to hire former military air traffic control specialists to enter ATC field training directly without first attending the Academy screening program. Selection of military controllers was based on meeting prehire qualifications, subject matter expert ratings of ATC training and experience, supervisor recommendations, and final decisions of selecting officials. Selection of the comparison group of Academy graduates was based upon selection test scores, age, work experience, and medical and security qualifications. Facility assignments for the military controllers were partly based on prior experience. Academy graduates' facility assignments were partly based on Academy performance.

    Training records were obtained for 538 military controllers who entered field training as part of the special hiring program conducted in 1988. Their training status and other performance measures were compared with those for 1605 candidates who entered the Academy between January and December 1988. Academy entrants had a 36% loss rate, which was typical for this second-stage selection procedure.Facility assignments differed for the two groups; 89% of military hires were assigned to terminal facilities while only 31% of Academy graduates received terminal assignments. The 1024 Academy graduates and the GS-9 military hires had statistically equivalent failure rates from field training at their first facility (13% loss for Academy graduates as compared with 20% for GS-9 military hires in the terminal option; both groups had about a 21% loss rate in the en route option.) However, a substantial percentage of both groups have not yet completed their training; thus, increases in loss rates may occur later.

    Few differences were observed in other measures of training performance. One interpretation of these results is that hiring former military controllers is an adequate strategy because it appeared to produce developmental controllers who performed about as well as did graduates from the FAA Academy. Another interpretation is that the GS-9 military hires who have prior experience performed no better than did inexperienced Academy graduates. Factors limiting interpretation of the results are discussed and recommendations are made regarding collection of additional background information which could improve the interpretability of results in future evaluation studies.

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