America Faces an Acute Shortage of Air Traffic Controllers Known as 'Guardians of the Sky'

By , Additional reporting by Pamela Browne, Gregory Johnson and Mallory Edmondson Transportation FOXBusiness

FAA corruption scandal takes new twist

FBN's Adam Shapiro reports that the FAA's human resources department may have played a role in the agency's hiring practices controversy.

As travel skyrockets to more than 87,000 commerical flights per day, the FAA must now hire at least 1000 air traffic controllers per year for the next ten years. Mandatory retirement is required for controllers at age 56.  

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But as FOX Business uncovered in a six month investigation, cheating on tests to get into the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) training program for controllers may be rampant. Instead of accreditation through the FAA’s College Training Initiative (CTI) schools, a murky personality test known as the ‘Biographical Questionnaire’ or BQ was introduced as the gateway of qualification for the coveted federal jobs in late 2013.

As a result, a diverse group of 3000 men and women, including veterans of military service find themselves thousands of dollars in debt with their aviation degrees. They have been tossed away as candidates for their dream job.

House Aviation subcommittee chairman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) is demanding answers from the FAA telling FOX Business. “We will demand answers to questions that were raised by your investigation. We want the safest air system in the world.”

FOX Business found evidence that new ATC recruits may have cheated on the BQ which includes questions like: “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.  

Promoting cheating on the test according to the FOX Business investigation is FAA employee and air traffic controller Shelton Snow, an officer of the National Black Coalition of Federal Aviation Employees. Charging $50.00 per year, it is one of several organizations which offer membership to people of color and minorities who work for the Federal Aviation Administration.  31-year-old Moranda Reilly, an aviation enthusiast, joined the NBCFAE when her friends told her that as a female applicant, it would help improve her chances of getting hired as an air traffic controller.   

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She was stunned when she started receiving voice text emailed answers to the BQ test from Shelton Snow.

“I was shocked when I first heard it,” said Moranda Reilly, a member of the of the NBCFAE, Moranda Reilly came forward to share with FOX Business evidence of cheating.

Reilly, 31, is a CTI graduate who holds an aviation degree and a “well qualified” status by her test score of 86 in the difficult and cognitive Air Traffic Selection and Training Exam or AT-SA. Reilly insists that she did not use the answers to the personality test which she failed.

FOX Business obtained Snow’s voice text message detailing instructions about the test:

“…I have taken a screen shot of and I am going to send that to you via email.  Keep in mind we are trying to maximize your opportunities…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…”

When confronted by FOX Business on camera, Shelton Snow declined comment. The FAA has yet to answer specific questions from FBN.

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.”

The following is an email letter a student received from the NBCFAE. The student is allowing us to identify him since, although he is a member of the NBCFAE, he never once said anything about the NBCFAE or Shelton Snow. FOX Business Network has asked the NBCFAE to comment this morning on our report and now to comment on what appears to be a campaign to intimidate people going public.


On May 21, FOX Business received the following comment from the National Black Coalition of Federal Aviation Employees (NBCFAE)

NBCFAE Response on Twitter

Below is an email letter received from a student at the NBCFAE.

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