Newspaper urges funding for OKC’s Air Traffic Control Academy


Words of caution about the FAA farming out its training of air traffic controllers

They came recently from the Enid News & Eagle which came out in support of full congressional funding for the training academy in Oklahoma City.

Here’s how the newspaper put it:

Oklahoma has a tradition of producing well-trained air traffic controllers for airports across the nation and worldwide. A recent push by some Texas political leaders to move part of that federally sanctioned training to Texas has Oklahomans understandably upset.

Oklahoma’s entire congressional delegation joined in a strong statement to the Federal Aviation Administration in support of the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City. The center, located at Will Rogers World Airport, is home to the FAA Academy, which provides aviation-related training to students both nationwide and worldwide.

The safety and integrity of the world’s airways is critical, and having consistent and standardized training with exceptionally high performance standards is key to maintaining safe air travel.

Concern about the training academy arose from an FAA decision to install a new air traffic control tower training system at an airport in Austin, Texas. That, plus a shortage of certified air traffic controllers, has prompted speculation about changes at the Oklahoma City training facility, which was established in 1946.

While improvements at the FAA Academy — including technology upgrades, more instructors and longer operating hours — would be most appropriate, FAA leadership should be wary of spreading the core essential training among multiple sites. Processes and standards in air traffic control operations and communications are so critical. Allowing the variations inherent in splitting training among multiple campuses could have disastrous consequences.

Safety is paramount. Pilots and air travelers must have complete confidence in the FAA system. There is no room for variations in quality.

The FAA needs to provide resources and upgrades, but don’t farm out the training to other sites. The Oklahoma City location has some built-in advantages — including an abundance of skilled personnel, both retired military and civilian — but those advantages must work for both the FAA and Oklahoma.

The stakes are too high to take risks with “alternate training” sites or standards.

Source: Enid News & Eagle