Age waivers hope to solve N.Y. staffing crisis.

Old guy thinks he has what it takes.
Could age waivers be the solution to the FAA's staffing shortage?

Age waivers hope to solve N.Y. staffing crisis.

An interesting caveat has been added to the existing bid.

Breaking News! In an unprescidented move, the agency announced on November 30, that they would be issuing an age waiver to anyone applying to the job announcement for N90 (New York Tracon). “This bold move should allow us to fix the staffing problem that has existed for over thirty years”, said agency spokesperson Sheila Garcia. She added; “We’ve tried just about everything. We’ve thrown money at the problem. We’ve eased transfer procedures and requirements for internal moves. People just aren’t putting in paperwork to transfer to New York Approach. Some people are intimidated. Some can’t stand the high cost of living on the Island. We’ve thought about building a new facility in  Jamaica (Queens), but have gotten a lot of congressional pushback”.

Will the elimination of a maximum age limit solve the problem?

The amendment was published this morning. There is officially no maximim age limit for this bid. Previously “Off the street hires” (persons not already employed by the government) could not be older than 31 years of age. This is because Air Traffic Controllers employed by the federal government are forced to retire on the last day of the month that they turn 56. Being hired after turning 31 years of age would not make it possible for a person to qualify for a full retirement. Another move that has some Republicans scratching their heads, is the acceptance of applications from non-citizens. The announcement reads: “We are accepting applications from non-citizens, provided they renounce their former citizenship and agree to be naturalized within thirty (30) days of accepting the position” This is an unusual move for a Republican controlled government that is intent on building walls to keep out immigrants.

One big caveat to the new waiver is that there is a guarantee of termination if you fail to attain certification. Ms. Garcia adds; “We’ve thought about this carefully. There are no loopholes here. If you are older than 31 and are hired under this announcement, and fail to get certified on ALL the required sectors, you will be terminated. There will be no reassignment to another agency facility. The NEST is closed to all that are picked up on this bid”.

We asked Ms. Garcia about the lack of a requirement for previous experience and/or college education; “We’ve gone down that road before. The typical CTI schools just weren’t producing capable applicants. Less than 1% of off the street hires with a CTI degree were successful in training. The percentages were only slightly better for applicants with actual ATC experience. Former military with experience hired off the street were successful 4% of the time, and most of those were Marines. Marines were the only ones able to handle the harshnees of training. Most Air Force veterans just clammed up, and couldn’t perform.

Ms. Garcia elaborated; “Basically we realized that we had to throw out the old playbook. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing, the same way, every time, and expecting a different result. Young people just aren’t getting it done. Maybe by changing up, and giving older people with real world and life experience a chance, we can fix this thing.”

With the age waiver only applying to new hires, it begs the question; “Will current qualified controllers at N90 be forced to retire at age 56?”. Ms. Garcia elaborated; “It’s the agency’s position to not grant age waivers to current employees. It just doesn’t make any sense to allow these trouble makers to hang around. They had their shot, and now it’s time for some new blood. Not necessarily young blood…just new blood. We are trying to change a culture here, not prolong a toxic one”.

We will continue to bring you updates on this developing story.

To learn more about Pilot Deviations, click the link below to read our advice for coping.

The Five Stages of a Pilot Deviation.

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