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Western Michigan University to offer air-traffic-controller training in the fall
January 28, 2011
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  • By Paula M. Davis

    January 27, 2011

    BATTLE CREEK – Western Michigan University’s College of Aviation will offer its first air-traffic controller training classes in the fall.

    “We’re very excited about it because it’s another option or offering within aviation, because not everybody wants to be a pilot or a maintenance professional,” said Ryan Seiler, the college’s coordinator for the Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative at WMU.

    WMU’s program, which will initially admit between 25 and 40 students, will focus on training controllers to work in towers, control ground movement and handle local traffic.

    Last year, the Federal Aviation Administration announced that it was adding WMU, along with four other schools, to its Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative.

    The training program is designed to prepare students to report directly to the FAA’s Oklahoma City academy, bypassing an initial five-week basics course.

    WMU’s College of Aviation is the only school in Michigan and one of 36 in the nation to offer the training.

    WMU’s program is integrated into the College of Aviation’s four-year degree curriculum, meaning students must pursue a degree in aviation science and administration, or in aviation flight science.

    The air-traffic training is taken as elective credit hours and the earliest aviation students can begin training is their sophomore year.

    The FAA’s collegiate training initiative intends to help recruit candidates for terminal and air-traffic controller positions.

    For those who land a job, Seiler said that “it’s a very stable career field and well-compensated. We think it’s going to be a very popular option for a lot of our students.”

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average annual salary for air traffic controllers is about $109,000.

    Those who complete the collegiate training and graduate with an aviation degree from
    WMU must also pass the FAA pre-employment test for air-traffic controllers and undergo additional training at the administration’s air-traffic academy in Oklahoma City to attain their certification.

    For more information about WMU’s air-traffic training initiative, including admission requirements, contact Seiler at or 269-964-6652.

    Date: 2011-01-27