WASHINGTON, Oct.12 (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s office of the inspector general said on Tuesday it would audit efforts by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ensure adequate air traffic control personnel.
The Inspector General’s office noted that since March 2020, the FAA has at times been forced to partially close towers and radar control facilities due to COVID-19 cases and faces veteran controllers leaving for various reasons, including retirements.
The audit will assess “the FAA’s efforts to ensure that critical air traffic control facilities have sufficient numbers.
It will also “identify the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the FAA controller training program.” The FAA says US airspace is the busiest and most complex in the world.
The FAA employs approximately 13,800 air traffic controllers at more than 300 US facilities.
In 2018, the FAA said that in the previous five years it had hired more than 7,800 new air traffic controllers.
In 2020, the FAA faced numerous cases of COVID-19 among controllers who forced the temporary closure of air traffic control towers, including at Chicago Midway and Las Vegas airports, resulting in the cancellation of hundreds of flights.
FAA Administrator Steve Dickson noted in a speech earlier that in 2020 the FAA “created sterile teams of air traffic controllers and implemented cleaning and disinfection protocols to keep people safe. and the operation of the system.
Reporting by David Shepardson Editing by Alistair Bell
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