FAA recently published the 2014 version of their Controller Workforce Plan. This document offers a quick view of two ongoing trends: ATC staffing remains high, while the workload, as measured in takeoffs, landings, and higher altitude en route operations is down 25% from the peak. As the graphs show, Air Traffic operations peaked fourteen years ago, in 2000, and have declined nearly every year since. The graph also shows an inflection back upward; despite the trends, FAA remains adamant as they have in all recent years: the growth will start NOW.
Using data from the 2012 CWP, an in-depth analysis showing extensive ATC overstaffing was done. In total figures, when comparing 2014 and 2012 staffing levels, in the past two years FAA has made an improvement:
- In September 2011, the target for total FAA ATC staffing ranged between 10,939 and 13,405 employees. FAA had 15,236 personnel, which exceeded the high target by 14%, and the low target by 39%.
- In September 2013, the target for total FAA ATC staffing ranged between 10,656 and 13,041 employees; FAA had 14,461 personnel, which exceeded the high target by 11%, and the low target by 36%. Thus, a slight improvement (down three percentage points).