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At a time when U.S. airline passengers are experiencing the highest rate of flight delays in more than 20 years, the Federal Aviation Administration is proposing radical changes to its air traffic control management programs that could lead to further flight delays, cancellations and jeopardize aircraft and passenger safety.

FAA plans to scrap the current air traffic controller training program, the Air Traffic Control Optimum Training Solution, that has been successfully training our nation’s air traffic controllers and replace it with a new, untested training program. Under normal circumstances, this may not be problematic. But with thousands of new air traffic control hires anticipated in the coming years and those hires needing three to five years of training, now is hardly the time to re-invent the wheel.

Recent Department of Transportation’s Inspector General audit reports outlined FAA’s weaknesses to implement program and contract management practices as a major cause of it achieving only half its training goals over the past five years. The IG found that the FAA overran its budget — using up a full five-year budget in just four years; failed to fully identify total training costs in advance; and failed to find innovations to reduce the training time for controllers.

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