Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Lancair Super ES, N817PR: Fatal accident occurred October 26, 2015 in Pascagoula, Mississippi

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office;  Pearl, Mississippi 

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report -  National Transportation Safety Board:

Aircraft previously registered as N808PX: 

NTSB Identification: ERA16LA028
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, October 26, 2015 in Pascagoula, MS
Aircraft: SCHUMACHER Lancair Super ES, registration: N817PR
Injuries: 3 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On October 26, 2015, about 1237 central daylight time, an experimental, amateur-built Lancair Super ES, N817PR, operated by a private individual, was presumed destroyed after it impacted the Mississippi Sound, in the vicinity of Pascagoula, Mississippi. The commercial pilot and two passengers were presumed fatally injured. The airplane departed from Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport (GPT), Gulfport, Mississippi, about 1220. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the departure airport. No flight plan had been filed for the personal flight that was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to preliminary information obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the airplane was owned by the pilot and based at Monroe Regional Airport (MLU), Monroe, Louisiana. Earlier in the day, the pilot flew from MLU to Ruston, Louisiana (RSN) to pick up one passenger, and then to GPT to pick up the second passenger. According to the wife of one of the passengers, the pilot was flying the occupants to South Carolina to attend a business meeting. Prior to departure from GPT, the pilot stated to air traffic controllers that he intended to take some pictures in the local area and then continue to "Daytona Beach." The airplane departed from runway 14 at GPT, made a left turn to the northeast at the Gulfport shoreline, and climbed to an altitude of 2,000 feet mean sea level (msl). About 1226, the pilot requested and was approved to terminate air traffic control flight following. The airplane's transponder code changed to "1200" and the pilot made a right turn to the southeast. The last recorded radar target with an associated altitude was at 1234:37, at an altitude of 2,800 feet msl; however, additional radar targets consistent with the accident airplane continued to about 1237, with the airplane located over the Mississippi Sound, about 10 miles south of the Trent Lott International Airport (PQL), Pascagoula, Mississippi. Fragmented debris associated with the airplane was subsequently found on a beach located about 9 miles northwest of the last radar target. A section of the empennage was located in the water about 3 miles northwest of the last radar target. 

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

Dexter Brewer

Gerald Miletello

As of November 4, 2015, personnel from the United States Coast Guard and the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources had not located the occupants.

A search of the FAA aircraft registry database revealed that "N817PR" was not an active registration. A pilot operating handbook with the registration "N808PX" was located among the debris. A representative from the pilot's family confirmed that the airplane had been previously registered as N808PX. Federal Aviation Administration records revealed that the accident airplane was issued a special airworthiness certificate in the experimental category on October 9, 2003, and it was purchased by the pilot through a limited liability company during August 2006.

The pilot reported 4,441 hours of total flight experience on his most recent application for an FAA third-class medical certificate, which was issued on September 26, 2014.

The weather reported at PQL at 1237, included wind from 110 degrees at 15 knots, with 25 knot gusts, visibility 4 miles in light rain and mist, scattered clouds at 800 feet above ground level, ceiling broken at 1,200 feet, overcast at 2,100 feet, temperature 23 degrees C, dew point 22 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 29.73 inches of Hg.

In addition, there were active weather advisors for convective activity and instrument meteorological conditions for the area around the airplane's last known position. The wife of one of the passengers reported that while on the ground at GPT, her husband stated that the pilot intended to fly along the coast to avoid "the worst of the weather."

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - On a stormy afternoon in October, a small plane crashed into the Mississippi Sound, killing the three men aboard. One year later, the search continues for the remains of the victims. And despite the passage of time, the searchers may be getting close.

"In some ways, it feels like it was just yesterday, you know," said Tina Cook of Saucier, "And in some ways, feels like it's been forever."

Cook lost the love of her life on that fateful day. Her husband, Dexter Brewer, was a passenger on the plane which plunged into the Mississippi Sound.

Though significant pieces of the wreckage were found, the remains of the victims were never recovered.

"I'm just appreciative that we're still looking. That I still have help. That we have Mark and that he's not giving up. That the DMR and other people working with us have not given up," said Cook.

"This is the critical piece that I looked at," said Mark Michaud, as he pointed to a photograph of recovered wreckage. "You can see, there's your tail. It has the numbers on it."

Michaud is an underwater recovery expert who’s been working with the family.

He is convinced the remaining portion of plane wreckage, along with the victims' remains, are located beneath the bottom of the sound, embedded in the mud at the spot where the plane went down; the same place the Coast Guard recovered a large tail piece.

"Maybe a piece of the starboard or right side of the cabin. Forward of the wing, and the engine. And of course, the remains. The bones of the three men that were onboard that aircraft," he said.

"We've done our homework and we think now that we have the information that we need to finally be able to bring Dexter home," said Cook, "And that's the goal of all this, to be able to bring him and the other two guys home."

Dexter Brewer's father is longing for some closure.

"Well, I hope so. I appreciate what everybody's been doing for it, you know," said Pettis Brewer.

"We're not going to go away, we're not going to back down. We're going to keep on going until we bring him home," said Tina Cook.

Story and photo gallery:

JACKSON COUNTY -- A team of five volunteers from Texas EquuSearch came to South Mississippi to help find a downed plane, its pilot and two passengers, all presumed dead.

"We've got some equipment that is more high-tech than what they had been using in the search," Tim Miller, founder of the search group, said. "Our sonar units are more up to date, and I think we have a lot more experience."

Miller and a team of four others got into town Sunday. On Monday, they launched a drone over the water near Ocean Springs where a portion of the plane's tail was found. The drone will help determine areas to focus on in their search.

The group went out as weather and water conditions allowed Monday on a 28-foot Carolina skiff and a 24-foot Skully.

Gerald Miletello, of West Monroe, La., Dexter Brown, of Saucier, and pilot Ron Gregory have been missing since their Lancair single-engine aircraft disappeared Oct. 26, just minutes after takeoff from the Million Air terminal at Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport. Air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane around 12:30 p.m. and the plane's last known location was 3.5 miles south of Pascagoula over the water.

Miletello's wife, Pam Miletello, has pleaded with the public to continue the search for their loved ones.

The search and recovery mission was suspended days after the plane went down. A portion of the tail of the aircraft was found shortly after the search began when it washed ashore at an Ocean Springs beach.

Miller said the families reached out to them for help.

Once Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell agreed to bring in assistance, he said the group headed to Mississippi. He said they arrived Sunday.

The Jackson County Sheriff's Flotilla has also continued its search despite the official search and recovery missing being called off.

Miller said he and his team got in town Sunday. They launched their first boat shortly before noon Monday.

Miller formed the non-profit search group after his daughter, Laura, was abducted in North Galveston County in Texas in 1984. Miller said police treated the case like a runaway and he couldn't find anyone to help him find his daughter. Seventeen months passed before someone found Miller's daughter and two other girls murdered 2 1/2 miles from Miller's home. There was never an arrest.

"I know firsthand what these families go through," he said. "It was a long torcherous 17 months before my daughter was found by accident. I remember every bit of those 17 months of helplessness, hopelessness and fear. I just made a promise to God and Laura that I'd never leave a family alone if there is anything we can do. We've got more rescues than law enforcement agencies."

Miller said their search team has found two downed planes over the years, one in New York and one in Texas. In New York they found the bodies of three people inside the plane, and they found one body in the Texas plane.

The group has also searched for missing persons in various high-profile cases, including the disappearance of Natalee Holloway in Aruba.

"I've been to Aruba nine times," he said.

The group has been involved in more than 1,320 searches in 42 states along with various other searches in other countries. The group's efforts have resulted in the recovery of remains of 140 missing people. In addition, they have found more than 300 missing persons.

"We want to bring closure to these families," Miller said.

The Coast Guard and other response crews searched early-on an area that covered 3,500 square miles. That search was later suspended.

Read more here:

The National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report on a Mississippi plane crash that is believed to have claimed the lives of three men, two from Monroe and West Monroe.

According to the NTSB report, the plane was owned by a pilot Ron Gregory from Monroe.

On October 26 Gregory flew to Ruston to pick up another passenger, Gerald Miletello of West Monroe, and then to Gulfport to pick up Dexter Brewer. They were headed to South Carolina on a business trip.

According to the report, there were active weather advisors in the area around the plane's last known position.

The report state's that the wife of one of the passengers told her the pilot intended to fly along the coast to avoid "the worst of the weather."

On October 29, the U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search for the plane and passengers. 

Dr. Vernon Asper with his Rutan Defiant experimental aircraft. 


Still no sign of three men who have been missing since their plane disappeared on Monday in Jackson County. 

As the Department of Marine Resources continues its search and recovery efforts, volunteers from the University of Southern Mississippi are taking to the water and sky to help look for the missing aircraft.

The search field for the missing plane covers a lot of water. 

When it comes to water, University of Southern Mississippi has a deep knowledge base.

USM's Gulf Coast Research Lab didn't hesitate to offer its services when hearing about the missing plane. 

The university loaned boats, sonar and more to the search.

According to director of external relations Pam Moeller researchers at the university can help in unique ways.

"If they have the location of a debris site or anything, they can map the currents of the ocean and wind and kind of back out from that where the particular debris came from," said Moeller.

This data is used to create computer models to aid in the search.

"Which is really useful because it lets the searchers know an idea of where we think the currents are going," said USM marine science professor Dr. Vernon Asper. 

Dr. Asper adds another depth, or height, to USM's help in the search.  He is volunteering his personal, experimental aircraft to take trips over the search site now that the flight restrictions have been suspended. 

He hopes his efforts will help to bring a sense of closure to the case and the families involved.

"The family has asked for everybody to do what they can, and this is what I can do," said Asper.

He also hopes to help shed light on what happened, so that other pilots can learn from the incident.

"The pilot was a very sharp cookie. He knew a lot more probably about flying than I do, and yet, something went wrong," said Asper.

What went wrong remains a mystery, but that may be something that USM's efforts could change.

According to Moeller and Asper, Gulf Coast Research Lab will continue to offer its services as long as the Department of Marine Resources needs.

Story, comments and photo:

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - On a stormy afternoon in October, a small plane crashed into the Mississippi Sound, killing the three men aboard. One year later, the search continues for the remains of the victims. And despite the passage of time, the searchers may be getting close.

"In some ways, it feels like it was just yesterday, you know," said Tina Cook of Saucier, "And in some ways, feels like it's been forever."

Cook lost the love of her life on that fateful day. Her husband, Dexter Brewer, was a passenger on the plane which plunged into the Mississippi Sound.

Though significant pieces of the wreckage were found, the remains of the victims were never recovered.

"I'm just appreciative that we're still looking. That I still have help. That we have Mark and that he's not giving up. That the DMR and other people working with us have not given up," said Cook.

"This is the critical piece that I looked at," said Mark Michaud, as he pointed to a photograph of recovered wreckage. "You can see, there's your tail. It has the numbers on it."

Michaud is an underwater recovery expert who’s been working with the family.

He is convinced the remaining portion of plane wreckage, along with the victims' remains, are located beneath the bottom of the sound, embedded in the mud at the spot where the plane went down; the same place the Coast Guard recovered a large tail piece.

"Maybe a piece of the starboard or right side of the cabin. Forward of the wing, and the engine. And of course, the remains. The bones of the three men that were onboard that aircraft," he said.

"We've done our homework and we think now that we have the information that we need to finally be able to bring Dexter home," said Cook, "And that's the goal of all this, to be able to bring him and the other two guys home."

Dexter Brewer's father is longing for some closure.

"Well, I hope so. I appreciate what everybody's been doing for it, you know," said Pettis Brewer.

"We're not going to go away, we're not going to back down. We're going to keep on going until we bring him home," said Tina Cook.

Story and photo gallery:

Tina says she's not giving up because Dexter wouldn't give up on her. 


It's been nine weeks since Dexter Brewer's plane went missing off the coast of Jackson County. Over time, his wife says some people have started to ask why she won't accept she may never have a body to bury.

"People have asked me that. They've said, 'You know that he's gone. Why don't you just go on with your life?'" said Dexter's wife, Tina Cook. "Dexter was the love of my life and I can't go on until I know where he's at." 

Dennis and Tammy Watters of Team Watters Sonar, Search and Recovery are using several types of sonar equipment to find the plane, and the three men who were aboard. Unfortunately, the husband and wife team can only search three eighths of square mile a day while looking beneath the surface.

"It's taken us way longer than usual.....the shallowness of the water doesn't allow us to use a lot of range in an effective search," said Dennis. "I could set this thing off at 100 feet on each side, go down there and tell you that it's searched, but it won't be. That's the problem. To tell you for sure that an area has been searched, we have to lower that range and make a lot more passes than normal."  

Dennis and Tammy say they are committed to keep looking; no matter how long it takes.

"At the end of the day the only thing that is going to find this plane is a lot of hard work," said Dennis. "You've got to get out there and just pound away with your sonar." 

From the Watters to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Cook says she's grateful to everyone who has given their time and support.

"There's no closure. You can't go on, and you're stuck," said Cook. "You feel like you're stuck in a rut that you can't get out of." 

Cook says she won't give up because she knows her husband wouldn't give up on her. The National Transportation Safety Board has not identified the cause of the crash, but officials say there was stormy weather that day.

Dexter Brewer's wife and the wife of passenger Gerald Miletello have created a GoFundMe account to help pay for expenses from the search. 


Letter: Blackmailed by the airlines


In writing about the problems of holiday travel to Aspen, Aspen Times writer Rick Carroll concludes with a quote from a frustrated traveler suggesting that it’s easier and cheaper to fly to Salt Lake City to ski than to fight the Aspen air-travel issues (“Aspen holiday travelers wait, wait and wait,” Dec. 29).

Of course he’s right, but then he wouldn’t be in Aspen, would he? There are a few things that can make his experience better, and people like John Kinney are working on them. But one that is not helpful in that story is the quote that the Federal Aviation Administration gave last year and again this year regarding the eyewitness comments about whether private aircraft have priority over commercial aircraft at the Aspen airport. The FAA spokesman says, “Private aircraft did not receive priority handling.” They probably didn’t, but that misses the point. The point is commercial aircraft don’t have priority. And they should.

I flew out on Delta on Sunday from Minneapolis. Our plane was sitting at its assigned gate on time, but it was delayed in boarding a full hour while Delta tried repeatedly to get seven people to give up their seats because of overbooking. There were few takers. And so we sat. Of course. With hotel reservations, ski tickets and dinner reservations, you can’t overbook these flights.

After boarding, we were barraged with the same offer to give up seats again and again by the stewards and the gate agents. An so we sat on the tarmac — and people hoping to return on that flight sat cooling their heels in Aspen. Finally, the head steward said, “We are not leaving until five of you give up your seats.”


That caused a shouting match from the passengers who somehow felt they had at least as much right to their confirmed seats as those waiting to board. The alternative offered by Delta was to fly to Montrose 24 hours later or to Denver and bus to Aspen 24 hours later. No alternative offer to fly to Aspen was made.

We left nearly an hour late, and then we circled Aspen for 40 minutes before landing. Anyone who can recognize Ruedi knows when you’ve passed over it six times that you are circling. Was that because commercial flights did not have priority over general aviation? Probably. Fortunately, when we did finally land, the attendants asked us all to keep our seats so those with tight connections could get off first.


Bill Kling



Aspen holiday travelers wait, wait and wait

The patience of travelers at Aspen-Pitkin County Airport was greatly tested over the weekend.

On Saturday, passengers waited up to four hours in the boarding area and nearly three hours while aboard commercial aircraft, security lines stretched outside, and eight travelers slept at the facility overnight because of flight delays and cancellations.

Airport Director John Kinney said a litany of factors played into the holiday weekend’s travel aches, which were being addressed Monday. Among them were a shortage of workers with the Transportation Security Administration, mechanical issues with airplanes, and weather-induced delays that choked commercial carriers’ flight schedules at such major hub airports as Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and Houston.

One traveler, David Aggy, said he and his girlfriend waited nearly three hours aboard a United aircraft before it departed from Aspen. The wait lasted 168 minutes, according to flight data.

“Strangely, people were fairly calm about it for a while,” he said, “until about the third time they said it will be a half an hour before we take off.”

Aggy, who owns a home in Aspen, said travel woes are to be expected at the Aspen airport. But watching private jets depart and land, while commercial travelers were stranded on the airport apron, some of them with their crying children, didn’t sit well with him and others.

“This is the busiest day of the year,” he said. “I get it. But what people couldn’t understand was private plane after private plane ...”

The Federal Aviation Administration oversees traffic controllers who determine when planes can land and depart.

Kinney said the FAA has told him numerous times that it gives priority to aircraft with the most passengers, whether commercial or private.

“And there’s far more people in commercial,” he said.

The Aspen air-traffic controller routed questions to an FAA spokesman who said capacity issues at the airport were the issue, not preferential treatment.

“Air traffic at the Aspen Airport exceeded capacity of the airport over the weekend and all flights were impacted and many were delayed,” said FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer in an email to The Aspen Times. “Private aircraft did not receive priority handling.”

Kinney and other airport officials were there Saturday and Sunday monitoring lines and keeping passengers apprised. At one point, a family with a child with special needs asked to be removed from one of the airplanes on the tarmac. The airport was about to accommodate them before air-traffic control confirmed the flight would be taking off within five minutes, Kinney said.

“Those people sitting two or three hours were probably at their wits’ end,” Kinney said.

At one point Saturday, 10 aircraft were on the ground, Kinney said.

Twenty-five of the 27 commercial arrivals Saturday were impacted, with five cancellations and 20 delays. Commercial flight delays and cancellations weren’t restricted to just Saturday; Sunday and Monday also saw numerous flight setbacks, flight statistics show.

Both outgoing Delta Air Lines flights were delayed Saturday, and two of four American Airlines flights were delayed and another one was canceled, according to flight data.

United Airlines flights, whether inbound or outbound, were plagued with problems. Of United’s 16 scheduled outbound flights that day, 14 were delayed and two were canceled. The first United flight of the day, scheduled to arrive in Denver at 1:20 p.m., didn’t land until 8 p.m.

Aggy’s flight didn’t land in San Francisco until 5:39 p.m., nearly three hours after the scheduled arrival of 2:51 p.m.

United found lodge rooms for about 20 passengers to sleep in Saturday night, while the airport allowed eight of them to sleep at the facility overnight.

“We had overnight eight visitors who chose not to find a hotel room given the high occupancy,” Kinney said.

Waits in the security lines were long, as well, with passengers trickling outside the airport’s front doors, Kinney said.

“We had 300 people waiting to get through the TSA into the passenger boarding-lounge area, and we were pushing 600 people in the entire area,” he said.

Aspen fire code has a cap of 316 people in the waiting area; the airport keeps it at 280 as a “comfort zone,” Kinney said.

“It’s pretty tight in there,” he said.

The airport also recently started a $600,000 terminal expansion that will enlarge the boarding space from 4,200 square feet to 6,325. It also calls for expanding the capacity from 280 passengers to 421.

Aggy, who has visited Aspen since he was a child, said before he bought his home here, airport service was “one of my biggest concerns, besides homes here being three times the price at Park City (Utah). Southwest to Salt Lake City is one-third of the price (to fly to Aspen), and it lands on time. Utah is looking better every year.”


Allegiant McDonnell Douglas MD-83, N865GA, Flight G4-736: Incident occurred December 30, 2015 at T.F. Green Airport (KPVD), Providence, Rhode Island 

A plane headed to Bangor, Maine, made an emergency landing at T.F. Green Wednesday night.

The Allegiant Airlines flight, which was on it's way from Sanford, Florida, was having problems in the air.

Passengers tell ABC6 News that it was a frightening few minutes after they were told the cabin was overheating.

"During the flight, the flight attendants came back and told us the cabin was really hot and we were going to have to make an emergency landing in Providence. My two girls were sitting in the back and they said that it was really, really hot and it smelled like smoke behind their seats," said on passenger.

The plane landed safely and no one on board was injured. There is no word yet on what caused the scare.

Story and video:

Three Allegiant flights that departed from Orlando Sanford International Airport in the past week had to be diverted midflight.

On Christmas Eve, 141 passengers on a flight to Youngstown, Ohio, were diverted to Jacksonville International Airport for an "engine problem," said a spokeswoman for the Jacksonville Aviation Authority.

On Monday, a plane flying from Orlando Sanford to Appleton, Wis. had to make an emergency landing in Fargo, N.D., after there were de-icing problems on the plane. There were 107 passengers and six crew members on that flight, said Allegiant.

And on Wednesday, Allegiant officials said a flight traveling from Orlando Sanford to Bangor, Maine was diverted to T.F. Green Airport in Providence, R.I. Officials have not yet said why the flight was diverted.

The incidents come as Allegiant pilots have been asking for bigger scrutiny of the budget airline, citing concerns about the safety of the airline's fleet of planes and the maintenance schedule for planes.

"That speaks volumes about the maintenance program," said Chris Moore, chairman of The Aviation Mechanics Coalition, Inc.

Moore said he was approached by Allegiant pilots in 2013 and asked to investigate air returns and diversions for the airline because of maintenance-related issues. On Nov. 13, 2014, Moore submitted a report to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Airline Division, which represents more than 80,000 airline employees, including mechanics, pilots, stock agents and flight attendants.

The report detailed 27 incidents that he said showed Allegiant pilots had to divert or return to the airport they left. Moore said all information was gathered from pilots who contacted him with information about the troubled flights.

Incidents took place between Sept. 4 and Nov. 3 of last year.

In July, the Wall Street Journal reported the Federal Aviation Administration was increasing its oversight of Allegiant after a flight ran low on fuel and was forced to make an emergency landing at the same Fargo airport as Monday's flight.

Allegiant officials said the company, like most commercial airlines, is "in nearly daily contact" with FAA leaders.

The FAA, said Allegiant in a statement, oversees and approves training materials, programs and certifications for police and other key airline staff.

"And any abnormal event is thoroughly reviewed, often in conjunction with the FAA," reads the statement.

In the recent incidents, Allegiant officials said an indicator light came on during the flight to Ohio.

"Out of abundance of caution, an emergency was declared and the aircraft landed safely at [Jacksonville International]," said Allegiant in an email.

Passengers left Jacksonville for Youngstown at 8:50 p.m. after another plane was brought, she said. Allegiant compensated passengers with a $150 voucher for future travel with the Las Vegas-based airline.

Allegiant officials said the flight to Wisconsin was rescheduled from Fargo and passengers departed Tuesday at 11:24 a.m. They received a $100 voucher.


Tucson Aeroservice Center serving Marana Regional Airport (KAVQ), Pima County, Arizona

The Marana Regional Airport is more than just a couple of runways.  It offers a wide variety of services to the owners and pilots of the aircraft that either call it home or land there on a cross-country trip or fly over just for repair service. 

The town of Marana actually owns the airport property and provides basic services, such as runway and grounds maintenance, utilities, and police and fire protection, however, the individual aviation facilities are run privately by Tucson Aeroservice Center.

If you need a place to bed down your plane, your hangar rental will start with Lisa in the Pima Aviation, Inc. office. Pima’s the “landlord” for the hangars and it’s a division of Tucson Aeroservice.

Upon entering the terminal building, you’ll be greeted by Kaela, Larry or Kelly, who are part of the FBO (fixed-base operator) service team. The Tucson Aeroservice Center FBO provides pilot rest facilities, a flight planning room with online weather and access to flight conditions around the country, refresher areas and office space. 

The building is home to several aviation-related businesses, including LifeNet and Pro Flight Gear. 

The FBO ramp service delivers fuel to needy aircraft (piston or jet), guides arriving aircraft to safely shutdown at a designated parking area and obtains ground transportation for pilots and passengers. 

Many large corporations hold business events at local resorts. Their pilots prefer to land at Marana because of close, less congested access to their destinations, the personal treatment they receive and the ease of getting in and out of the field, when compared to larger, commercial airports.

So, let’s say, that when you landed your Cessna 182, you noticed a lot of static on your usually crystal clear radio. Dave Stabell and Brett Christianson in the Avionics Shop will get you right in and figure out the problem. 

Between them, they have over 65 years of electronics experience, plus a full availability of backup parts and equipment.

Great. Radio is all better, but, now you noticed a small puddle of oil under the engine. 

This is a job for Ron Anders and the Maintenance Shop Team. 

“Not a problem,” says Troy Wagner, chief inspector. 

The plane is towed over to their hangar, just down the ramp from Avionics. The problem is easily identified by one of the four certified mechanics. 

Meanwhile, Angie is picking the replacement items in the Parts Department. Everything’s fixed, and your aircraft is good to go.

History Lesson

Did you know that Marana was the place to train pilots in 1942? There were actually five local Army Airfields back then: Picacho Field #1 (now Picacho Stagefield Heliport), Rillito #2 (now called Marana Regional Airport), Coronado Field #3 (in Red Rock), Avra Field #4 and Sahuaro Field #5 (now El Tiro Gildeport). The Army Air Force initially trained in the AT-6 “Texan;” later, the US Air Force used the T-28 “Trojan”.  

The area looks a lot different today than it did back then. If you’re ever out-and-about near the airport, stop in at the FBO (the blue terminal building) and take a peek at all the photos in the hallway showing the changes over the years.

And give us a holler at if you’re interested in working on the AirExpo committee.


Low Flying C-17 Air National Guard Aircraft Captures Attention: Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn.-- Residents driving downtown or living in the area were treated to a low flying Air Force plane that circled the city on Tuesday. 

 A C-17 Globemaster Air National Guard cargo plane out of Memphis circled the city, drawing the attention of residents. 

Matt Cullom was quick to capture the aircraft on video and shared a close-up of the plane in case you missed it. 

Story, video and photo:

Governor responds to airport takeover ‘conspiracy’: Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport (KJAN), Jackson, Mississippi

JACKSON, Miss. —The day after 16 WAPT broke the story, Gov. Phil Bryant responded to city leaders who said he and the state are conspiring to take over the Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport.

“This is an executive level conversation that is happening at the executive levels of government in the state of Mississippi,” Mayor Tony Yarber said.

The mayor called the governor out Tuesday, claiming that Bryant is making a move to take over the airport.

“We look forward to having discussions to revitalize the Jackson Municipal Airport and to increase its air service,” Bryant said.

He would did not address the mayor’s conspiracy accusation.

The airport and buildings on-site are owned by the city of Jackson, and that has been the case since the facility opened in the early 1960s, but critics claim that since it is bordered by so many other cities and counties that others should have a say in what happens there.

The airport has been criticized for a reduction in flights and the loss of high-profile air carriers, like Southwest. Longtime airport director Dirk Vanderleest retired last year.

“As long as Dirk Vanderleest was there, we never had this conversation,” City Councilman Kenneth Stokes said Tuesday. “As soon as Dirk Vanderleest is gone and you put a black man there, they come in and the state is going to take it over.”

“I’m offended that he would accuse me of that,” State Sen. Josh Harkins, of Rankin County, said in response. “Race has no place in this.”

Harkins is authoring the airport board takeover bill. Harkins said he’s not trying to take away Jackson’s property, just change the makeup of the board from one that is solely appointed by the Jackson mayor to one appointed by the governor with members from three metro counties.

“I think to just ignore it and let it sit there, I think if you ask citizens in central Mississippi if they are happy with the service of the airport, they may not be, but at the end of the day, what are we going to do about it?” Harkins said.

Rep. Earl Banks and Sen. Hillman Frazier, both of Jackson, are opposed to the proposal.

“So, how can you get a bunch of political thugs that have been elected, to come in and say, ‘We’re going to take it.’ That’s theft,” Banks said.

“Is there a reason we need to change the rules when the airport has been successful and moving forward?” Frazier asked.

The measure will land on state lawmakers’ desks after they return to work next week.


Deal in works for management change for Yeager Airport (KCRW) general aviation operation

A Charleston, S.C., aviation management firm is interested in taking over Yeager Airport’s general aviation operation, now managed by long-time lessee Executive Air.

On Wednesday, two top officials with Hawthorne Global Aviation Services met with members of Yeager’s general aviation committee and Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper to talk about their company and its tentative plans for operating the private aircraft facility at the Charleston airport.

The company has signed a letter of intent with Executive Air President Scott Miller to take over Executive Air’s 10-year lease on the general aviation facility, also known as a fixed base operation, or FBO, but needs approval from Yeager’s governing board to complete the deal.

Hawthorne Global Aviation Services currently manages FBOs at MacArthur Airport on New York’s Long Island, Cobb County International Airport near Atlanta, Executive Airport in Chicago and Chippewa Valley Regional Airport at Eau Claire, Wis.

“We’ve been in discussions with Scott Miller for several years, and we really like what we see here,” Bryon Burbage, Hawthorne’s president and chief financial officer, told Carper and members of the general aviation committee. “We’ve come to the point where we want to spend time with you guys and see if what we’re planning works for you.”

“It’s a robust operation,” said William E. Harton, Hawthorne’s senior vice president for development, of the Executive Air facility. “We want to make sure it keeps its character, but we would be in a position to help add to its infrastructure.”

Miller and Executive Air’s chief financial officer, Danny Kennedy, would continue to oversee day-to-day operations, he said, using the FBO’s current employees.

“We would also honor existing agreements between Executive Air and other parties at least until they naturally expire,” Harton said.

In return for taking over Yeager’s FBO, “are you offering anything, money-wise, to the airport?” Carper asked Burbage and Harton.

“There’s nothing specifically carved out for the airport,” Burbage responded.

“That’s the most absurd thing I’ve heard,” Carper replied.

Ed Hill, president of the Charleston airport’s governing board, said the Yeager board has the option of running the FBO on its own, should a lessee want out of its lease agreement.

“What I want to know is what you have to offer the airport that is superior to us running the FBO ourself?” Hill asked.

“Years of experience operating FBOs, higher liability coverage” and the clout to buy fuel and supplies at lower prices, Harton replied. “We’ve looked at facilities where municipalities took over FBO operations, and the level of service dropped off. We have been asked to take over some of these FBOs.”

General Aviation Committee Chairwoman Karen Haddad said that for Hawthorne’s proposal to be considered further, the company needs to have its attorney “write up the terms of a proposed lease and send it to our attorney. After that, we can get back together again.”

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Reverse Discrimination Suit Filed Against Federal Aviation Administration, Hiring Fallout Continues

A lawsuit filed this morning in Arizona federal district court seeks class action status to represent thousands of men and women who claim the Federal Aviation Administration violated their civil rights. Those people were students in FAA certified training programs at two- and four-year colleges nationwide that offered degrees in air traffic management. 

The program was called the Collegiate Training Initiative and was started by the FAA in the 1990s to prevent an acute shortage of air traffic controllers; the kind of shortage the FAA says now threatens the nation’s air traffic safety. 

Until recently, the FAA told potential recruits the CTI program was a preferred method to become an air traffic controller. But in 2013 the FAA abruptly changed its hiring practices in an attempt to become more racially diverse.

Close to 3,000 students who spent money obtaining degrees through the CTI programs, and had passed FAA required skills tests, were suddenly and without explanation ruled ineligible. The FAA instituted a new personality test designed to weed out applicants in place of the older aptitude test. A FOX Business investigation, TROUBLE IN THE SKIES, first reported the hiring scandal and charges that FAA employees helped select students cheat on the new personality test.

The Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF) filed the suit on behalf of CTI graduate Andrew Brigida. He achieved the highest possible score on the FAA’s air traffic control aptitude test but was ruled ineligible by the FAA's new personality test.

“I felt angry. Because you take all this time, you’re told this is the way, going to the CTI school to be hired, and they say sorry it doesn’t matter anymore.” Brigida said he spent $40,000 to obtain his degree but, “I feel all that time and money was wasted, just four years down the drain.” 

Brigida wants the FAA to reinstate his eligibility to be hired or to compensate him for the money he spent obtaining his air traffic management degree.

MSLF’s President and Lead Attorney William Perry Pendley said, “In abandoning years of hiring the most qualified and adopting a test that is the epitome of psychobabble, the FAA told our clients their skills are less important than their race, and the public that its racial agenda is more important than aircraft safety.”   

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FOX Business' "Trouble in the Skies," a six month investigation of the FAA’s new hiring practices, uncovered changes that may put the nation’s flying public at risk as well as allegations that the newest air traffic control recruits had access to answers on a key test that helped them gain jobs with the FAA.

Lawmakers are taking notice, in a statement to FOX Business Correspondent Adam Shapiro U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren (IL) said. “The latest report elevates the need to dig deeper to find out what the FAA is hiding. What is clear is that the FAA’s lack of transparency and disturbing agenda puts the safety of our skies at risk. I repeat: it’s time to compel the FAA to come before Congress to answer for their actions.”  

Also uncovered was an FAA effort to promote diversity that discarded 3000 qualified college graduates with degrees in air traffic control despite their following FAA procedure and obtaining FAA accredited degrees.  

Trouble in the Skies

Millions of Americans are about to fly to summer vacations unaware that some of the air traffic controllers guiding their planes may have cheated on a key test to get their jobs.  A six month investigation by the FOX Business Network into the hiring and training of air traffic controllers raises troubling questions about the nation’s air safety and the men and women the Federal Aviation Administration, FAA, hires to staff airport control towers.

 It takes several years of study to acquire the complex skills necessary to become an air traffic controller, or ATC.  It’s considered among the highest pressured jobs in America.  The path for new ATC recruits begins with questions like this, “The number of different high school sports I participated in was A) 4 or more… B) 3…  C) 2…  D) 1…  E) Didn’t play sports.”  It was on the Federal Aviation Administration’s 2014 new and controversial exam called the Biographical Questionnaire or BQ. The FAA says it created the BQ to promote diversity among its work force. All air traffic control applicants are required to take it.  Those who pass are deemed eligible and those who fail are ruled ineligible.

In 2014, 28,000 people took the BQ and 1591 were offered jobs.  FOX Business, as first reported on FBN’s “The Willis Report”, has uncovered evidence that FAA employees’ including some within the agency’s human resources department may have helped applicants cheat on that test.

Air traffic control applicants take the BQ at home, on their personal computers, without any supervision. The agency’s web site says the BQ is “… proven to be a valid instrument for assessing experience work habits, education, and dimensions that are related to success on the job.”   Other questions on the 2014 BQ included,   “How would you describe your ideal job? What has been the major cause of your failures? More classmates would remember me as humble or dominant?   26-year-old Matthew Douglas, a Native American from Washington State, took the BQ last year and failed. “How does this relate to the job? How does this determine what’s gonna make a successful candidate?” he asked.

It’s a good question and one the FAA is reluctant to answer. The federal agency will not reveal what the BQ specifically measures or how the exam determines eligibility to become an air traffic controller because it is worried that would compromise the test.   But what really upsets Douglas is until January 1st,  2014, he was the kind of person the FAA considered incredibly eligible and gave preference in hiring to become an air traffic controller.

Matthew Douglas is an energetic young man who had a good job working for Google Maps when a friend invited him to tour the FAA’s control center in Seattle.  “I was hooked.  The work was fascinating and I knew this was my calling,” he said.  Douglas decided to throw caution to the wind, left his job, loaded his dog into the car and made the 2200 mile trek north to the University of Alaska Anchorage, UAA, where he set out to obtain a degree in air traffic control. He says, “I opted for the UAA because they had simulators and a well-respected program.”  Like several other young men and women pursuing air traffic control degrees, Douglas borrowed thousands of dollars, $30,000 in his case, to earn an FAA accredited degree from programs the FAA calls Collegiate Training Initiative or CTI Schools.  The FAA created the CTI program more than 20 years ago to provide the agency with a reliable source of qualified air traffic control applicants.

The FAA knew back in the early 1990s, that it would face a shortage of qualified air traffic controllers as old timers began to retire. The FAA requires controllers to stop working at 56 years of age and the predicted shortage is now developing.  The agency says it needs to hire 1000 new air traffic controllers a year for the next ten years to replace those it’s losing to retirement.  Air safety and the U-S economy depend on it.  Air traffic controllers are the backbone of a system that routes 87,000 flights daily in North America and contributes $1.5 trillion annually to the US economy according to the FAA. 

Between 1994 and 2006, the FAA recruited colleges and universities nationwide to establish CTI programs, on their campuses, to teach potential air traffic controllers the basics.  At its peak the CTI program was offered at 36 two and four year institutions.  And until last year, the FAA WEB page advised people like Douglas that the CTI program was the way to become an air traffic controller.  Things were looking good for him when he graduated from UAA’s CTI Program in 2013.

Matthew Douglas earned a perfect score, 100, on the FAA’s old screening test called the Air Traffic Selection and Training exam, or AT-SAT.  The FAA says the AT-SAT is an eight hour computer based test that measures, “aptitude required for entry-level air traffic control positions.”  Douglas calls it a rigorous measure of cognitive ability.  He said, “There is time speed distance equations that you do in your head, actual control scenarios, games that test your ability to multitask; all skills that are essential to this job.”  His perfect score earned him the designation of “well qualified” a status in the FAA’s old hiring nomenclature given to anyone with a score on the AT-SAT above 85.  “Well qualified” CTI graduates were considered the best of the best according to a source at the FAA who wishes to remain anonymous.

The FAA used to give hiring preference to CTI graduates, like Douglas, who achieved the “well qualified” designation on the AT-SAT, successfully earned a degree from a CTI program and obtained a recommendation from the CTI program’s administrators.  Douglas had it all as he awaited the FAA’s 2014 bid for jobs.  It appeared, to him, that he was at the front of the FAA’s line to be hired as 2013 came to a close. “I finished my air traffic control program with a 4.0 and I interned for the FAA.  I think that I had a decent chance, absolutely,” he said.

But just as Matthew Douglas prepared for a new year and a new life, the FAA dropped a bomb.  On December 30, 2013 the FAA threw out his AT-SAT score, CTI diploma and recommendations from his CTI program administrators. In fact, the FAA threw out the AT-SAT scores and CTI qualifications  of an estimated 3000 CTI graduates and military veterans who were all previously designated “well qualified” to become air traffic controllers.  The FAA told them all to start over.  But this time, when they applied for a job, their college degrees and previous military experience would mean nothing. They would now compete with thousands of people the agency calls “off the street hires”; anyone who wants to, can walk in off the street without any previous training and apply for an air traffic control job.  The FAA’s only requirements, to apply, are be a U.S. citizen, have a high school diploma, speak English and pass the FAA’s new BQ, Biographical Questionnaire.  What Douglas and thousands of other CTI graduates didn’t know was that the FAA was planning these changes long before the agency made them public.

FAA administrator Michael Huerta announced pending changes to the Air Traffic Control hiring process in April 2013, several months before Douglas and the other CTI graduates were discarded.  But Huerta made no mention of what the agency actually planned to do as Douglas and his CTI classmates were preparing to graduate. An FAA press release issued in April 2013 says, “Administrator Michael Huerta has made an historic commitment to transform the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) into a more diverse and inclusive workplace that reflects, understands, and relates to the diverse customers we serve.”

The FAA made those changes based on a barrier analysis started in 2012 which identified, “… four of seven decision points in the air traffic controller hiring process that resulted in adverse impact to applicants from at least one demographic group.” In other words, the agency’s analysis determined there were barriers for minority applicants to obtain the FAA’s air traffic control jobs.  The FAA then hired Atlanta based APT Metrics to further analyze those barriers and recommend solutions.  APT Metrics issued its report, Extension to barrier Analysis of Air Traffic Control Specialist Centralized Hiring Process on April 16, 2013.  It says that while the CTI schools appear to be a preferred applicant source, the program “…tends to have very little diversity.”  This is a conclusion the Association of Collegiate Training Institutions, a group representing the 36 CTI schools, fiercely disputes.

Doug Williams, a spokesperson for the association says the barrier analysis and APT Metrics report were flawed because they considered CTI enrollment at 4 year schools and failed to include enrollment data from two year schools, like community colleges, which have much larger minority enrollments. The APT Metrics report also took aim at the AT-SAT as a screening tool for air traffic control candidates and it’s well qualified scoring preference saying, “One potential solution to the issue is to replace the use of the AT-SAT…with a measure that can differentiate candidates without increasing adverse impact.” That replacement became the Biographical Questionnaire which Matthew Douglas failed.

As a Native American, Matthew Douglas is the kind of diverse candidate you would think the FAA wants and he’s in favor of diversity. “It generates a better atmosphere when you have people from different backgrounds I completely agree with it,” he said.  30 year old Moranda Reilly also agrees with diversity. She graduated from the CTI program at the Community College of Baltimore County, Maryland in 2013.  Reilly spoke exclusively with FOX Business about her experience applying for a job with the FAA and taking the BQ.

Moranda Reilly is eager to become an air traffic controller.  She was the aviation club president at her community college, won the National Air Traffic Controller Association’s contest explaining the role controllers play in aviation and excelled in her classes. Reilly is hooked on aviation and now getting her private pilot’s license.  “I think it’s fascinating. This industry is a unique one,” she said.  At first, the FAA’s hiring changes didn’t worry Reilly who scored 86 on her AT-SAT, lower than Matthew Douglas scored, but still considered “well qualified.”  And Reilly had something Douglas didn’t; access to the BQ test and the right answers.   “I was shocked when I first heard it,” she told FOX Business.

Moranda Reilly says friends in the CTI program encouraged her to join an organization called the National Black Coalition of Federal Aviation Employees or NBCFAE.  It’s one of several organizations which offer membership to people of color and minorities who work for the FAA.  Reilly says her friends told her joining the NBCFAE, as a female applicant, would help improve her chances of being hired.  The NBCFAE WEB page says it has 1000 members and advocates on behalf of 5000 African American and minority FAA employees. “For over 35 years, NBCFAE, a nationwide network, has been dedicated to promoting equal employment for African Americans, female and minority employees; improving employee-management relations and providing an effective liaison amongst FAA employees and the community at large.”   Reilly signed up just as the FAA launched a new round of hiring in February 2014.

Reilly told FOX Business that she received a recorded voice text message from FAA employee and air traffic controller Shelton Snow a few days after the FAA hiring process started and applicants began taking the BQ.  Candidates were, and still are, allowed to take the test unsupervised, on their own time and on their home computers over a two week period.

Snow is an FAA employee and president of the NBCFAE’s Washington Suburban Chapter. He has recently been promoted to be an FAA Front Line Manager at the FAA’s New York Center.

Moranda Reilly says Snow sent her and other ATC applicants a recorded message on February 12, 2014 as they were preparing to take the Biographical Questionnaire test.  Reilly shared the recording exclusively with FOX Business.

Snow Voice Text Message:

“I know each of you are eager very eager to apply for this job vacancy announcement and trust after tonight you will be able to do so….there is some valuable pieces of information that I have taken a screen shot of and I am going to send that to you via email.  Trust and believe it will be something you will appreciate to the utmost.  Keep in mind we are trying to maximize your opportunities…I am going to send it out to each of you and as you progress through the stages refer to those images so you will know which icons you should select…I am about 99 point 99 percent sure that it is exactly how you need to answer each question in order to get through the first phase.”

Snow refused to discuss the recording with FOX Business and has declined several requests for interviews telling FOX Business, “Journalists must stop contacting me.”  When confronted on camera by FOX Business about the allegations of cheating and providing answers to the test, Snow declined to comment.  On his recorded message, Snow discusses the screen shots and icons applicants should select. Snow goes on to refer to “one of my HR representatives” and giving them “the opportunity to sign off on it before you actually click it.”  The recording was sent to NBCFAE associate members when it became clear some of them were failing the BQ test.

Shelton Snow - FAA employee and president of the NBCFAE’s Washington Suburban Chapter.

Snow Voice Text Message:

“People have been getting rejection notices and those rejection notices have been coming after about 24 to 36 hours after clicking submit and I want to avoid that so what we are going to do is we are going to take our time and we’re going to make sure that everything we click on, and you going to even have to go back to your resume and make some changes because one of our members and I have caught something and we want to go back and want to fine tune those details…”

NBCFAE National President Paquita Bradley also declined repeated requests from FOX Business to discuss the recording and accusations that NBCFAE members helped applicants cheat.  The FAA rejected requests from FOX Business to grant interviews with FAA employees about the BQ but in a written statement about the cheating said, “No individuals have made credible allegations to the FAA about this issue.” Reilly says, “I want to talk about it because I joined the NBCFAE and when I saw what was going on, I knew that I had to stand on the right side of the fence.”

Reilly says Snow and other NBCFAE officials conducted workshops showing NBCFAE associate members, applying for FAA jobs, the correct answers to select on the BQ as well as key words to use on their resumes in order to be selected by FAA hiring personnel who were also NBCFAE members. Reilly insists that she didn’t cheat.  She failed the BQ. “It breaks your heart to work so hard for something and for someone to say that you’re not eligible because of a personality exam” she said.  Disappointed but not deterred, Reilly decided to do something about what she says she witnessed.

Reilly went to her CTI advisor with the recording she got from Snow.  The advisor told Reilly to contact aviation lawyer Michael Pearson a retired air traffic controller who now practices law in Phoenix, Arizona.  “I believe the flying public has a right to know this is going on. I believe the people engaged in this behavior need to be held accountable,” he said.

Pearson represents Moranda Reilly and several CTI graduates who may sue the FAA if they can obtain class action status.  As of now, they’ve filed an equal employment opportunity complaint with the FAA’s Equal Employment Opportunity office.  But Pearson suspects something more egregious is taking place. “You had social engineering in my belief, my opinion, going on.  It was driven by two arms of the FAA, two different organizations.  One was a human resources group and I believe there was another group for different motives were engaging in what I believe is discrimination against qualified candidates,” he said.  At the center of the accusations is the BQ which Pearson says is being misused to disqualify worthy job applicants like Moranda Reilly and Matthew Douglas.

The FAA, responding to questions from FOX Business, insisted the BQ was professionally developed and “…validated based upon years of extensive research...”  The new hiring process was implemented “…to ensure the FAA selects applicants with the highest probability of successfully completing our rigorous air traffic controller training program and achieving final certification as an ATCS (Air Traffic Control Specialist).” 

Applicants who pass the BQ and subsequent FAA hiring review are sent to the agency’s training academy in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  Course work there lasts 13 weeks but it takes another two to three years, during which trainees apprentice at air traffic control centers across the country, for an applicant to achieve Certified Professional Controller status or CPC.  It can cost as much as $420,000, on average, to fully train an air traffic controller and the FAA tries to select candidates based on the likelihood they will successfully complete their training.   But, CTI School advocates say the old program saved the FAA time and money.

Data from the FAA indicates CTI graduates complete their FAA academy course work five weeks sooner than off the street hires.  And, CTI advocates say CTI graduates are more likely to achieve certified professional controller (CPC) status which saves the FAA money since the CTI graduates complete the program at greater rate than applicants hired off the street.  FOX Business obtained a never made public FAA report that supports those claims. Studies of Next Generation Air Traffic Control Specialists II: Analysis of Facility Training Outcomes by Recruitment Source was written in October 2014 by Dana Broach, Ph.D. a researcher at the FAA’s Civil Aerospace Medical Institute in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  The report concludes, “Overall, larger proportions of…CTI hires achieved CPC (Certified Professional Controller) status than did general public hires.”

The FAA refused to let Broach talk to FOX Business but called his report “inconclusive”.  His unpublished report however speaks loudly and recommends preferring, “…CTI hires over general public hires…” because it “… could produce more net CPCs (Certified Professional Controller) than a policy of equal or no preference for recruitment sources.”  It’s just one of several reports Broach has authored questioning the FAA’s current hiring procedures.

Broach co-authored another report last year which questions the FAA’s use of biographical data to predict training success; one of the reasons the FAA says it now uses the BQ. Using Biodata to Select Air Traffic Controllers, October 2014 says, “…the evidence for using these biodata items for controller selection is weak.”  The report recommends additional research is needed to validate items predictive of success in training.  The FAA declined requests to discuss Broach’s research. Moranda Reilly finds it all very troubling. “They just base an entire hiring force on biographical data and now they’re saying that it’s weak so how can you stand behind what you, what you’ve put in place?”  Matthew Douglas says it makes no sense. “Where’s the logic behind it? If it’s weak then why would you use it?”

Congress asked the same questions last year during hearings on the hiring changes.  The FAA has not yet fully responded but has said publicly, “Disclosure of the Biographical Assessment items and the basis for scoring and weighting given to each question would diminish the validity and utility of the instrument for the selection of persons into the ATCS (Air Traffic Control Specialst) occupation.”  Congressman Randy Hultgren (R) Illinois doesn’t believe it. “I just fundamentally disagree with that.  You might get lucky in finding a few people that are qualified and able to do this, but again what I’ve seen from CTI programs, you’ve got passionate people willing to commit themselves.”  When FOX Business played the Snow voice text message for Hultgren, he called it “cheating.”

Hultgren is cosponsoring the Air Traffic Controllers Hiring Act of 2015 to force the FAA to abandon the BQ and restore preferred hiring status for CTI graduates and military veterans who score high enough on the AT-SAT to be designated “well qualified”. “The biggest objective is to make sure that our air travel is still the safest in the world and air traffic controllers are a big part of that,” he said.  The bill also requires the FAA to let the 3000 CTI graduates whose lives were disrupted by the BQ’s implementation, reapply for air traffic control jobs even if they are older than the 31 year age cutoff. 

But the FAA continues to stand behind the controversial BQ saying it helps select, “…those applicants with the highest probability of success in the FAA’s rigorous air traffic controller training process.  Of the 1591 cleared to be hired in 2014, 742 have been sent, as of May 2015, to the Academy with 564 passing their basic training. The 24 percent washout rate is consistent with failure rates under the FAA’s old hiring guidelines according to a FAA source who wishes to remain anonymous.

Moranda Reilly doubts a new law will help her. “I will never be an air traffic controller and it’s heart breaking, it really is,” she said.  Matthew Douglas is more optimistic and he has a message for the FAA. “You’re toying with lives.  You’re toying with students who invested so much time and effort into this and you’re also toying with aviation safety.  There’s 3000 of us who are more than willing to do the work so if anyone wants to reach out to us please do, we’re ready, we’re passionate and we want to work.”

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