The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced April 12 that Hesston College is one of five new colleges and universities that will be part of the Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI). This is the third year the FAA has added schools to the AT-CTI program bringing the total number of schools participating to 36.

Dan Miller, director of Hesston’s Aviation program, sees Hesston’s inclusion as “a significant affirmation of the quality of our program and the dedication of our staff. Becoming an AT-CTI school is an opportunity to serve students with expanded offerings that prepare them for the FAA’s program in Oklahoma City and in-demand jobs.

“To have Hesston College listed among the many esteemed FAA approved colleges and universities nationwide is exciting. And to be the only AT-CTI school in Kansas is a great responsibility and honor as well.

“We will continue to prepare our students—both aviation-flight and aviation-air traffic control—to be competent and professional with an orientation toward service that is rooted in Christian faith.”

The FAA AT-CTI program was first established in 1990 at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. The program helps recruit candidates for terminal and en route air traffic controller positions.

Twenty-one institutions submitted applications early last year to join AT-CTI. The applications were evaluated based on the school’s organizational foundation and resources, organization credibility, air traffic basic curriculum and facilities.

The five schools joining the program are: Sacramento (Calif.) City College, Florida Institute of Technology College of Aeronautics (Melbourne), Texas State Technical College (Waco), Western Michigan University (Battle Creek) and Hesston (Kan.) College.

CTI institutions are not given federal funds to teach air traffic control courses, however the FAA does provide curriculum and instructor notes on air traffic basics. The institutions independently incorporate the material into their aviation programs.

The AT-CTI curriculum provides appropriate education, experience and training which meet the basic requirements for the terminal and en route air traffic occupations. As a result, AT-CTI graduates may be permitted to bypass the initial five-week air traffic basics training when they report to the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City.

No jobs are promised to students, but from fiscal years 2005 until 2009 more than 3,000, or 41 percent, of the air traffic controllers hired graduated from an AT-CTI school.

Hesston College’s Aviation department began offering courses in air traffic control in fall 2009. The Hesston program aims to help meet a growing need for Air Traffic Controller Specialists—tower, ground, and radar controllers—as current controllers reach mandatory retirement at 56 years of age.

Hesston’s program is unique in that all students will earn their private pilot’s license in addition to taking air traffic control courses. “We want our graduates to see both perspectives in the aviation world,” Miller added. “We think it will give our graduates the potential to be a better resource to pilots and to the aviation industry.”

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