By KATHRYN A. WOLFE | 3/13/13 4:40 AM EDT
The Federal Aviation Administration has imposed a hiring freeze to help blunt the sequester’s impact, but that threatens to disrupt the pipeline of new air traffic controllers needed to replace the thousands of workers eligible for retirement.
That’s no small problem, considering the sheer number of controllers who are eligible to retire right now — more than 3,000 people out of the 15,000-odd workforce could tender their retirement papers at any time.
Further complicating matters, it can take years to get a new controller fully trained, and the significant washout rate — the FAA calculates it at nearly 7 percent — means that even if people walk into the door for the job, they may not be staying.
All that means that any lengthy disruption to new controller hires could throw off the agency’s structured attempts to deal with a retirement bubble that has plagued the agency for years.
The hiring freeze is being put into place as a way for the FAA to help manage the cuts it has to make as a result of the sequester. The agency has warned that the next steps will include furloughs, which will spread the pain for airlines and travelers.
“We have instituted a hiring freeze and have begun to cut contracts, travel and other items,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said during a March 6 speech.“But to reach the large figure we need to cut, we have little choice but to make up the rest through furloughing employees. This is not something that we take lightly.”
An FAA official confirmed that the hiring freeze is agency-wide, including the air traffic control workforce.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/03/air-con...