The Federal Aviation Administration has halted air traffic controller and technician training at the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center as a result of budget cuts because of sequestration.
Students who were to begin training this spring and summer instead will be invited to attend classes starting Oct. 1, if funding is available, according to Laura Brown, a spokeswoman for the agency.
“The FAA does not anticipate an immediate impact to its future air traffic controller staffing plans; however, if training is not able to resume this fall, the reduced pool of controllers could create facility staffing challenges in the next two to three years,” she said.
Some students are being allowed to complete their coursework, but the FAA couldn't say how many.
The center, at 6500 S MacArthur Blvd., hosts about 1,000 students at a time.
All FAA air traffic controllers receive their training at the Oklahoma City facility.
More than 300 contract workers at the Mike Monroney center recently received layoff notices, including 224 workers employed by Raytheon Co. and 94 who work for Interim Solutions for Government LLC, known as ISG. The ISG contractors were told the furloughs were temporary.
Most of the courses scheduled between April 15 and September 30 have been deferred, an FAA spokesman said. All affected classes are expected to finish by mid-June. There are now about 531 students at the center and by the end of June, the FAA expects that to be down to 100-150. All academy employees are being furloughed up to 11 days, or approximately one day per pay period. The FAA reduced the number of contract employees, who assist with instructing, because many of the classes were deferred.
Also, delays and flight cancellations piled up at airports across the country this week as air traffic controllers began taking mandatory unpaid days off.
Karen Carney, a spokeswoman at Will Rogers World Airport, said she didn't expect the furloughs to impact service in Oklahoma City, but travelers could experience delays at connecting airports.
Brianna Bailey, Business Writer
The FAA does not anticipate an immediate impact to its future air traffic controller staffing plans; however, if training is not able to resume this fall, the reduced pool of controllers could create facility staffing challenges in the next two to three years.”