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FAA taps WMU to train air traffic controllers

April 14, 2010

KALAMAZOO--The Federal Aviation Administration announced April 12 that Western Michigan University is one of five schools across the nation being added to the agency's Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative.

The AT-CTI program, first launched in 1990, helps recruit candidates for terminal and air traffic controller positions. Five new schools were selected from among 21 schools that submitted applications last year. With the new institutions joining the program, the number of schools now part of the initiative nationwide stands at 36, with WMU being the only school in Michigan to be part of the network.

In addition to WMU, the four other new schools are Sacramento City College, Florida Institute of Technology College of Aeronautics, Texas State Technical College and Hesston (Kan.) College.

Dave Powell, dean of the WMU College of Aviation, says his unit's work on the initiative began two years ago, and the training program WMU proposed was built as a partnership operation with Kellogg Community College. The application was submitted with an outline for the training curriculum, and the next steps will be to flesh out the curriculum and address issues of personnel, equipment and class location.

"This is a great opportunity in so many ways," Powell says. "This is an elite group of schools around the country the FAA is entrusting with this work. We'll begin by putting some meat on the bones of the outline we developed and reinvigorating our partnership talks with KCC."

According to the FAA, the proposals submitted were evaluated based on the school's organizational foundation and resources, organization credibility, air traffic basic curriculum and facilities.

No federal funds are provided to selected schools, but schools do receive curriculum and instructor notes on the basics of air traffic control training. Using its aviation education resources, each school selected is expected to develop its own curriculum. The goal is to prepare students who are ready to report directly to the FAA's Oklahoma City academy and bypass an initial five-week basics course. While jobs are not guaranteed to graduates of an AT-CTI program, about 41 percent of FAA new hires over the past five years have attended such a program.

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Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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