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Letter: Retain standardized test for air traffic controllers

Retain standardized test for air traffic controllers

The Federal Aviation Administration has instituted revised hiring practices for federal air traffic controllers that risk endangering the flying public. Although the FAA itself admits that the single best predictor of success as an air traffic controller is the applicant’s score on the air traffic standardized aptitude test (AT-SAT), applicants are now required first to “pass” a personality test with an unknown correlation to job performance or occupational success.

The personality test will inevitably weed out some top scorers on the AT-SAT because it’s not perfectly correlated with the test (if it were, it would be entirely redundant). As a result, the remaining pool of air traffic controller applicants may therefore have a lower median AT-SAT score, and be at risk for poorer job performance.

Successful military air traffic controllers and applicants who have obtained high AT-SAT scores have already been denied FAA training and controller jobs because of these procedures, in favor of other candidates with no previous aviation experience. Our crowded skies filled with airliners hurtling along overhead at speeds up to 600 mph are an inappropriate venue for experiments in social engineering of this sort. Every airline passenger and crew member deserves air traffic controllers selected from an unrestricted pool of applicants by the best current predictor of their success, the AT-SAT exam.

Daniel H. Trigoboff, Ph.D.