An Examination of the Success of Developmental Air Traffic Controllers Transferring to Lower-Level Facilities

Air traffic control specialists (ATCSs) in training (developmentals) must successfully complete field qualification training at an air traffic control (ATC) facility to become a certified professional controller at that facility. If a developmental is unsuccessful in field training but shows potential in controlling air traffic, the developmental may be allowed to transfer to a less complex, lower-level ATC facility for training. The authors assessed training outcomes of developmentals allowed to transfer to a lower-level facility following training failure at a first facility. Type and level of facility to which the retained developmentals were transferred had an impact on success in training. Developmentals succeeded significantly more often if transferred to a small (Level 4-6) or medium (Level 7-9) airport traffic control tower (ATCT) facility than if assigned to any level of a combined ATCT/tower radar approach control (TRACON) facility, whether transferring from an en route or a terminal ATC facility. Developmentals allowed to transfer to small and medium ATCT facilities did as well as developmentals assigned to these facilities as a first facility, but again, did less well at combined facilities. Thus, the likelihood that transferred developmentals will succeed at a second terminal facility is significantly higher at ATCT facilities than at combined facilities. The primary difference between ATC skills needed at an ATCT or ATCT/TRACON facility is the use of radar-based control procedures. It is possible that, in many instances, the transferred developmentals were unable to master radar-based ATC. Perhaps an explanation may be the age of the transferring developmental. Researchers have consistently found an inverse relationship between age and training success in ATC. The authors believe that if age is considered in making second facility assignments for transferred developmentals, field qualification training outcomes for these developmentals will improve. However, considering age in second facility assignments could have implications for career progression policies in which developmentals progress from lower- to higher-level facilities. An examination of age and success in field qualification training at a second ATC facility may be required.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Edition: Final Report
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 11p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01602590
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: DOT/FAA/AM-16/2
  • Created Date: Jun 22 2016 3:44PM