FAA’s Approach for Determining Future Air Traffic Controller Staffing Needs (138p)

TRB Special Report #314 was issued on June 13, 2014. The 138-page publication was produced by a 12-person Committee, consisting of 12 academicians, consultants, and current and retired air traffic controllers. Members had expertise in ATC and management, human factors, aviation safety, fatigue and sleep research, workforce planning, staffing models, aviation demand and management, public policy, economics, and budgeting. The Committee met five times, from January 2013 through January 2014.

The Committee was chaired by Amy R. Pritchett, Georgia Institute of Technology. The other Committee members included:

  • Mathias Basner, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
  • Peter J. Basso, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Rockville, MD
  • Lawrence M. Cole, Aloft Aviation Consulting, Fredericksburg,
  • Mary L. Cummings, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
  • Francis T. Durso, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta
  • John J. Fearnsides, MJF Strategies, LLC, Washington, D.C.
  • Andrew LeBovidge, National Air Traffic Controllers Association,
  • Amedeo R. Odoni, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge
  • Norman T. O’Meara, Logistics Management Institute, McLean,
  • Clinton V. Oster, Jr., Indiana University (emeritus), Troy, Montana
  • Roger Wall, FedEx Corporation (retired), Kent, Washington

Biographical information concerning the committee members appears at the end of the report.

FAA was not cooperative, to the extent that key studies on ATC fatigue were not shared, and “…the committee had difficulty in obtaining clear and consistent descriptions of the staffing process and in establishing that the process steps are applied consistently….” The new TRB study noted FAA’s continued refusal to share its ‘for official use only’ 2009 study on ATC fatigue. Here is an excerpt from page 26 of the report (at page 44 of the 138-page PDF):

“…The results of a 2009 study conducted jointly by FAA and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) examining controller fatigue have been available to the nascent FRMS program. They have remained in a “for official use only” format and have not been released to the public (or to the committee)….”

Here is a link to a downloadable PDF copy of the full 138-page report.