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Old 08-09-2011, 09:32 AM   #1  
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Default Leaving for ATC?

I'm currently an F/O at a regional airline thinking about leaving the career in pursuit of a much more secure and better paying job at a lvl 12 ARTCC. I applied OTS (PUBNAT 8) a couple years ago, tested, selected, interviewed and I'm now finally recommended. Still probably have another year to go before I'm offered a class in OKC after backgrounds, medical and whatnot.

Just wondering who else out there is leaving or has left commercial flying for an ATC job.

If you've already left, what has your experience been like in your new career?

I figure if I leave flying the door is always open to come back, especially with this so called pilot shortage on the horizon.
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Old 08-09-2011, 10:17 AM   #2  
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Good for you for trying to go to ATC. It is very stable and pays very well. Plus health benefits, pension and retirement matching are very good working for the FAA. I am too old; otherwise I would try that option also.

There are many furloughed legacy guys that work for the FAA and make more being an Inspector than they were flying. Many of them have decided not to go back even if they were called.

Pilot Shortage? Not going to happen. Look at the low pay and all the hoops you have to jump through just to get hired anywhere. Everything indicates a pilot abundance.




I am constanlty looking into getting into another career becasue aviation has proven to be very unsatble and I dont want to keep having to start over. I miss flying but not the horrible regional pay.
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Old 08-09-2011, 12:11 PM   #3  
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There's no loss going to FAA/ATC. You'll get paid more, and if you want to fly down the road, there will likely be a low paying, long commuting, 16 hour duty day waiting for you.

The only thing that might slow me up is if you're just around the corner from upgrade. If not, punch out. Regional FO jobs will have cycles, but will largely be easy to get for a guy with your experience.

My background is 10 years at a (then) level III center (ZOA, now ATC-11) and then a level 12 approach, SCT. Also, CMA tower.
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Old 08-09-2011, 03:02 PM   #4  
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Our stories are oddly similar. I'm a regional FO, years and years away from upgrade, applied PUBNAT 8, was selected for ZDC, interviewed in May, and now I'm waiting out clearances, etc. I posted a similar thread on stuckmic a few months back and everyone had positive things to say about making the jump. Pay, stability, being at home every night... I love flying airplanes, but this career is not what it used to be. The way I always thought of it, if I am ever lucky enough to complete this process and be offered an academy date, it's not like I'm giving up my ratings or my hours. If for whatever reason I decide in 10 years that controlling isn't for me, I can always get back into flying (whereas, I've only got 4 more years before the age cutoff at the FAA).

I think you've got the right attitude in that patience is a virtue. I read on stuckmic yesterday that the first PUBNAT 8 people to get a class started August 2nd, but like you said it could very easily be next year or even 2013 before center classes unjam themselves. Either way best of luck to you, and know that you're not alone in this situation.

Edit: I just answered this when I noticed that we fly the same plane. Are we at the same company? If the level 12 ARTCC you were selected for is ZDC then this is officially the biggest coincidence ever.

Last edited by jheath; 08-09-2011 at 03:16 PM.
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Old 08-09-2011, 03:14 PM   #5  
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The PATCO strike in 1981 sank my dreams of flying a Cessna 402 for a Regional, hopefully to be on my way to a Major in a few years... I took the ATC job in 1982, and never looked back with regrets. I was always able to fly on the side, the Guard, part-time Part 135 on days off, instruct.... so when retirement from Air Traffic was an option, I was able to leave that career to do something I loved (with a pension!).
My family has been very supportive, I did the ATC job to provide some stability/income then, they've encouraged me to fly in retirement now.
If you take the ATC job, stay engaged in the aviation community. Instruct, fly right seat (never for free), buy an airplane!!!!
Adventure is out there!
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Old 08-09-2011, 09:27 PM   #6  
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If you take the ATC job.... buy an airplane!!!!
Adventure is out there!

One of the beauties of the ATC biz is that I was able to buy several airplanes over the decades, and had the money to actually fly them. I don't know of too many regional dudes flying around in a Baron.

But, ATC is never going to be nirvana. It is a guvment job, and the guvment is out of money. They are constantly trying to contract out ATC, so it can be just like other countries and to save money. Ask what happened to Flight Service when that was contracted out.... glad you did; they were pushed out of federal service, some literally DAYS from retirement in Oct 2006.

Also, sucking someone's posterior is a time honored method of "moving up" to the f-up/s-up crowd. There is no seniority for that.

Want to move to a different facility? Good luck. It does happen, of course, buy if you're at a critically staffed location, you'll never get out. Note: some places are perpetually short staffed. Your seniority won't help you to bid different facilities.
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Old 08-09-2011, 11:29 PM   #7  
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One of the beauties of the ATC biz is that I was able to buy several airplanes over the decades, and had the money to actually fly them. I don't know of too many regional dudes flying around in a Baron.

But, ATC is never going to be nirvana. It is a guvment job, and the guvment is out of money. They are constantly trying to contract out ATC, so it can be just like other countries and to save money. Ask what happened to Flight Service when that was contracted out.... glad you did; they were pushed out of federal service, some literally DAYS from retirement in Oct 2006.

Also, sucking someone's posterior is a time honored method of "moving up" to the f-up/s-up crowd. There is no seniority for that.

Want to move to a different facility? Good luck. It does happen, of course, buy if you're at a critically staffed location, you'll never get out. Note: some places are perpetually short staffed. Your seniority won't help you to bid different facilities.
Thank you for the realistic side of this argument. There are obvious and numerous downsides that must be weighed against the downsides of an airline career. Though, let me ask you...from a controller's standpoint...while it seems obvious that many lower level facilities are in danger of being contracted out, do you ever see a future landscape where centers are farmed out like contract towers? The other argument of course is how is next gen going to affect staffing levels. One of my main reasons for wanting to be a controller is I won't have to worry about being furloughed if there's another terrorist attack or oil prices spike...but a certain captain I've flown with thinks there will be a massive controller furlough someday when the next gen system allows a single controller to work exponentially higher levels of traffic. Though, he also doesn't want to fly for FedEx or UPS because he thinks they'll all be operating as unmanned drones in 20 years, so...

I guess there's never really an answer to these types of questions though.
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Old 08-10-2011, 09:13 AM   #8  
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Thank you for the realistic side of this argument. There are obvious and numerous downsides that must be weighed against the downsides of an airline career. Though, let me ask you...from a controller's standpoint...while it seems obvious that many lower level facilities are in danger of being contracted out, do you ever see a future landscape where centers are farmed out like contract towers? The other argument of course is how is next gen going to affect staffing levels. One of my main reasons for wanting to be a controller is I won't have to worry about being furloughed if there's another terrorist attack or oil prices spike...but a certain captain I've flown with thinks there will be a massive controller furlough someday when the next gen system allows a single controller to work exponentially higher levels of traffic. Though, he also doesn't want to fly for FedEx or UPS because he thinks they'll all be operating as unmanned drones in 20 years, so...

I guess there's never really an answer to these types of questions though.
You're right, there's no solid answer, but I'll give it my best shot...

As far as I know, there are no plans to contract out any IFR services (approach controls, centers) at any time. It will be at least 15 years before nextgen has any effect on the movement of airplanes, and those changes won't cost any controller jobs. I'd guess 20-25 years before the possibility of that exists.
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Old 08-10-2011, 01:31 PM   #9  
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Thanks for the replies everyone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jheath View Post

Edit: I just answered this when I noticed that we fly the same plane. Are we at the same company? If the level 12 ARTCC you were selected for is ZDC then this is officially the biggest coincidence ever.
I was selected for ZDC but I don't think we're at the same company. The DHC-8 I fly is anything but Q (quiet). I'm guessing you're either at Colgan or Horizon. Funny coincidence though. Maybe I'll see you in Leesburg in a few years. Speaking of, any idea on how long the line is these days? I heard each facility had a queue of people waiting for OKC class dates and that you could call and find out where you stand on that list once your backgrounds, medical, psychs, etc are done. The lady I interviewed with in ZDC had no idea what I was talking about.
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Old 08-11-2011, 06:08 PM   #10  
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Thanks for the replies everyone.



I was selected for ZDC but I don't think we're at the same company. The DHC-8 I fly is anything but Q (quiet). I'm guessing you're either at Colgan or Horizon. Funny coincidence though. Maybe I'll see you in Leesburg in a few years. Speaking of, any idea on how long the line is these days? I heard each facility had a queue of people waiting for OKC class dates and that you could call and find out where you stand on that list once your backgrounds, medical, psychs, etc are done. The lady I interviewed with in ZDC had no idea what I was talking about.
Small world. You're correct, I'm at Colgan for now. I've heard of that list too, but I haven't actually spoken to my HR rep about it yet. I just sent my initial paperwork packet in last month. If you go to the facility specific thread on stuckmic I think I read that ZDC had reached their quota for this year, and that there were something like 12 people in the queue for next year? I think they had like 20 or so go through this year, but I'm basing this on some pretty speculative information and I have no idea how many slots they have for next year. Either way, I don't think I'd be surprised if we maybe have something come our way next year, but I also wouldn't be surprised if it's 2013 either. The good news is things are picking up for PUBNAT 8 finally. I'm just happy to have a job I like in the meantime and happy to still be in the running because I had a friend apply to PUBNAT 8, get a 99 on the AT-SAT and still get the "thanks but no thanks" letter. I know he had VA on his geoprefs too. I heard a rumor last year when I was filling out my geoprefs that ZDC had a history of picking a larger percentage of former pilots than other facilities. I don't know if that's actually true or not but with a sample size of 2 it's holding true so far. Did you interview in Leesburg or somewhere else? I did mine at the STL TRACON.
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